How might a theological anthropology enable Christians to resist ideologies of racial oppression in church and society?

Introduction

Despite Christian doctrine’s claims of all men being created in the image of God, the Church has historically been guilty of racial discrimination.  The very notion of slavery goes against Christian theology.  Western Christianity has especially failed to adequately interfere with this social malice in the centuries past.  In contrast, among cultures of the newer churches around the world there is more communal harmony and acceptance. This is evident in indigenous peoples from less materialistic and less consumerist cultures that practice Christianity.  There, we find “traditions of cherishing every creature, however small, and of living in close and respectful relationship with the earth itself. Openness to traditions like this could lead the church into a renewed relationship with the Creator and the creation, and to a deeper respect for life itself.” (McRae-McMahon, 1998)  This essay will elaborate how theological anthropology will enable Christians to resist ideologies of racial oppression in Church and society.

All Creatures were made in the Image of God

The renewed understanding by the Church is that all people are made in the image of God.  This includes the young and the old, men and women, persons in good health or disability, etc. Even those adopting varied lifestyles are included, just as those from every race and culture.  This renewed understanding by contemporary Church should raise erstwhile restricted patterns of social relationships into the full realization of God’s will. We can achieve this by “forming an inclusive community, the gifts of all will be released, and all are celebrated and invited to share what they have and are with the church and the world.” (McRae-McMahon, 1998)

 Pluralism as the Motto for Modern Church

Moving away from ‘exclusivism’, modern Christians will have to adopt the principle of Pluralism in the religious context.  Theologically, exclusivism within pluralism becomes “idolatry of one’s own tribe, self, group, religious complex, experience.” (Marty, 1997) This is a dangerous tendency.  The challenge facing Christians in the West today is how they are going to “deal with the other, the others who always outnumber us globally and usually do so next door or in our region? None of us will have the world to ourselves, especially after the electronic revolution that connects so many in so many ways.” (Marty, 1997)

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