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evangelical post colonial conversations

by Jared Byas

I recently read Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations: Global Awakenings in Theology and Praxis (seriously, can we ease up on the catchphrases, publishers?) and found it to be one of the better attempts to wed postcolonial theology with evangelicalism. This book was written out of conversations at 2010 and 2011 Roundtable Discussions at AAR, with around a dozen contributors.

What I really didn’t like about the book . . . was how choppy it read. I jokingly referred to it as “A Book of 10 Introductions” as I read through it. It has 5 introductory essays to start the book followed by an introduction to Part 1 and then introductions to Parts 2, 3, 4, and 5. With each non-introductory essay only being 10-15pp long, it often felt repetitive (as the necessary setup in many of the essays seemed to repeat similar themes) and, dare I say it again, too introductory. But for many evangelicals, this repetition of key themes may be a helpful heuristic.

What I really loved about the book . . . was the diversity of the authors. I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the essays were actually written by some combination of non-white, non-western, and non-men people. It was so refreshing to hear from men and especially women Indians, Africans, Native Americans, Asians and those from the Middle East. These are the voices that need to be heard, not just talked about. The chapter by L. Daniel Hawk and the late Richard L. Twiss, subtitled “An American Hermeneutic of Colonization” was worth the price of admission, if only because of its insightful commentary on the power of colonial ideology over the psyche of the colonized. Or maybe because I’m Choctaw and it helped me understand my story better. Either way, a very appreciated contribution to the volume.

As a book that helps symbolize the beginning of a focused conversation around post-colonialism in Evangelical academic circles (circles that emphasized a more generic “global theology” conversation in previous years), I appreciated the effort and look forward to seeing the many conversations and books that follow from it in the coming years.

Jared Byas, M.A.

As a former teaching pastor and professor of philosophy and biblical studies, he speaks regularly on the Bible, truth, creativity, wisdom, and the Christian faith. Tweets at @jbyas