The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race

The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race

Why has Christianity, a religion premised upon neighborly love, failed in its attempts to heal social divisions?  In this ambitious and wide-ranging work, Willie James Jennings delves deep into the late medieval soil in which the modern Christian imagination grew, to reveal how Christianity’s highly refined process of socialization has inadvertently created and maintained segregated societies.   A probing study of the cultural fragmentation—social, spatial, and racial—that took root in the Western mind, this book shows how Christianity has consistently forged Christian nations rather than encouraging genuine communion between disparate groups and individuals.

Weaving together the stories of Zurara, the royal chronicler of Prince Henry, the Jesuit theologian Jose de Acosta, the famed Anglican Bishop John William Colenso, and the former slave writer Olaudah Equiano, Jennings narrates a tale of loss, forgetfulness, and missed opportunities for the transformation of Christian communities.  Touching on issues of slavery, geography, Native American history, Jewish-Christian relations, literacy, and translation, he brilliantly exposes how the loss of land and the supersessionist ideas behind the Christian missionary movement are both deeply implicated in the invention of race.

Using his bold, creative, and courageous critique to imagine a truly cosmopolitan citizenship that transcends geopolitical, nationalist, ethnic, and racial boundaries, Jennings charts, with great vision, new ways of imagining ourselves, our communities, and the landscapes we inhabit.

Title:The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780300152111
Format Type:

    The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race Reviews

  • E.

    This is the third book in the last year that I have read about the entanglement between Christian theology and racism. Each has provided a slightly different perspective. Each has been well-written, p...

  • James Smith

    A book this is both a conceptual symphony and prophetic challenge. ...

  • Adam Shields

    In the past 8 years since The Christian Imagination was released, I have seen a diverse group of Christians say that this is the most influential theology book of the last decade. I am not going to di...

  • Zach Hollifield

    Although I would have some disagreements with Jennings, this is one of the more thought provoking and framework shifting books I’ve ever read. I dare say it would be impossible to read this and thin...

  • D.L. Mayfield

    One of the hardest, most challenging, and yet formative books I have read in a long time. Jennings gets right to the roots of the diseased Christian imagination in the West. Absolutely required readin...

  • Jon

    Normally when I rate 5 stars AND write a review, it means I’m recommending the book to everyone. The situation is more complicated with Jennings’s masterpiece. This book is extremely difficult int...

  • Simonetta Carr

    Thought-provoking book, unearthing insidious ways in which non-biblical colonial persuasions have infiltrated Christian thought. It's a book I will re-read a few times....

  • Brenton

    This is amazing content! It is very heady, and it takes a lot of effort to study and understand the concepts suggested. But I think that it is worth the effort, especially in light of the racial confl...

  • Jensen Troup

    A treasure trove of theologically-based examinations of the formation of race originating in the colonialist period. Beginning with a discussion of Christian missions work in South Africa, Latin Ameri...

  • Thomas

    Jennings weaves together various narratives of colonial incursion into the lives of indigenous and/or 'African' people in order to give the reader a sense of how race was constructed and understood, w...