Race and Soteriology
What Is Soil?
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The notion of soil might seem alien to a broader concept of salvation as the principal notion of soteriology. However, in her book, Jennings (2010) manages to combine the two phenomena into a single entity. According to Jennings (2010), the interpretation of soil as the breeding ground for the development of key principles of social hierarchy and the creation of multiple preconceptions explains the idea of race in soteriology perfectly. Jennings (2010) explicitly states that the history of colonialism is unalienable from the Christian narrative, which is why the concept of soil as the Christian history of colonization and violence toward those of different philosophies, must be recognized. Being interwoven tightly with the Christian narrative of promoting faith, the concept of soil represents the problematic past of Christianity, particularly, its attempts at foisting Christian faith onto other cultures.
What Is the Problem with the Soil?
The main problem with the soil lies in its colonialist past and the chauvinistic nature of its underlying principles. The resulting implications of cultural superiority and, ultimately, the supposed higher significance of a specific ethnicity or race, transforms the Christian philosophy into the breeding ground of prejudice and colonialist attitudes (Simpson, 2016). As a result, Christian principles transform into a weapon that can be used to oppress minority groups and reduce the extent of their agency in the cross-cultural dialogue (McGrath, 2018). Therefore, the concept of soil becomes a deeply problematic notion that affects the relationships between cultures adversely.
Racial Imagination and the Language of Soteriology
Racial imagination affects the language of soteriology to a significant extent. Namely, the importance of acknowledging the impact of early colonialist ideas of Christianity suggests that the idea of race is mostly artificially constructed based on the perceived physical differences marked as the attributes of otherness. Therefore, the presence of racial imagination as a mindset that encourages people to use profoundly colonialist criteria that are detached from any form of reality to justify violence represents an important arguing point of soteriology. Namely, racial imagination introduces the idea of salvation as linked inextricably to a set of specific values and philosophies, thus culminating in alienation of other cultures and the promotion of colonialist attitudes as a genuine attempt at salvaging others.
Reflection Journal: Jennings’ Description of Colonial and Racial Deployments and a Personal Understanding of Salvation
Although Christianity is presently defined by overwhelming benevolence and the focus on promoting peace, unity, and the importance of human life across the globe, a retrospect into its past reveals that some of the Christian ideas have rather questionable roots and premise. Specifically, the notion of colonialism is baked profoundly into the essence of Christianity and a range of its ideas (McGrath, 2018). The described characteristic of the Christian faith explains a range of quite questionable endeavors of Christian leaders, such as crusades against representatives of religious minorities. As a result, the perspective of the Christian interpretation of salvation as the experience of accepting Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior, as well as internalizing the foundational Christian concepts and ideas, suggest accepting and promoting the colonialist principles mentioned above.
The argument concerning the presence of soil in the Christian belief and the deeply ingrained race-related prejudices, as well as the implied racism that the specified issues suggest, made me reconsider my interpretation of salvation to a considerable extent. Previously, the notion of salvation as it was entrenched into my worldview implied focusing on the narrative created by Western ideologists for the Western population, including the embellished impact of European people on the development of Christianity and the Eurocentric ideas engraved into the specified version of the narrative.
However, after considering the perspective that Jennings (2010) provides, I managed to shift toward a more culturally accepting idea of Christianity. Specifically, the role of African American people in the development of Christianity became obvious to me. The focus on three primary constructs that Jennings (2010) isolates in her narrative have also contributed to my interpretation of race in the Christian context. The constructs of displacement, translation, and intimacy underline the foundational injustice in the promotion of the perspective oriented largely toward members of European culture. The issue of translation is, perhaps, one of the most complicates concerns to manage since it implies not only the actual product of interpreting Biblical stories from one language to another but also the process of communion (Simpson, 2016). Consequently, the significance of a cross-cultural dialogue within the Christian setting gains massive significance as one of the foundational pathways to promoting cooperation and unity (Simpson, 2016). Therefore, connecting the colonial and racial narratives to the ones represented in the current interpretations of the Bible within the Christian community made me change my attitude toward salvation. Namely, the book helped me to understand the massive extent of underrepresentation that the African American community has been facing due to the focus on colonialist ideas in the overwhelmingly Europe-centered representation of Biblical stories.
As a result, the concept of salvation for me no longer revolves around the phenomenon of accepting the whitewashed interpretation of the Bible. Instead, I have embraced the multicultural vision of the Biblical narrative and recognized the role that the African American community has played in it. Specifically, the notion of salvation is expanded to the idea of embracing the core of Christian ideas without accepting the colonialist ideas that have become inseparable from the Christian narrative due to the focus on the White culture. Overall, the book has convinced me in the necessity to abandon the perspective of White community that has been dominating the Christian discourse and, instead, explore the role that African American people have had on the evolution of Christianity.
Moreover, the described perspective has allowed me to acknowledge the legitimacy of other religious beliefs apart from Christianity as an inseparable part of differences between cultures. Overall, the integration of the constructs of soil and race into the analysis of the Christian beliefs has become the platform for a more multicultural approach toward structuring the further Christian discourse. As a result, people of other races and ethnicities, including African Americans, will not feel alienated from the Christian community. Moreover, the specified step will help to acknowledge the massive contribution that Black people have made to the development of Christianity.
The Holy Spirit and Trauma
Holy Spirit as the Witness to the Human Trauma
The story of the Divine Resurrection is rarely viewed through the prism of trauma, yet the specified perspective offers quite a range of peculiar and philosophically profound ideas to consider. On closer inspection, the entire nature of the Biblical discourse is drenched in the idea of overcoming trauma and represents a spiritual rebirth from suffering. In her work, Rambo (2010) reflects upon the notion of trauma as the fundament for the Christian philosophy, pointing to the fact that overcoming trauma represents a symbolic resurrection and the resulting elevation to a higher plane of spiritual development. Therefore, the Holy Spirit, which the Christ embodies, witnesses human trauma as Jesus suffers for the sins of humankind and dies on the cross.
Articulating the Witness in the Holy Saturday
The development of trauma described above can be seen with especial clarity in the Biblical description of the Holy Saturday. The concept of witness in the Holy Saturday has been articulated by Rambo (2010) in a manner that allows connecting death to rebirth. Specifically, while the presence of the witness was undeniable during the crucifixion, it remains slightly blurred afterward, as Rambo (2010) explains. However, during the Holy Saturday, the presence of the witness establishes itself firmly as it allows reinforcing the idea of death permeating the reality and becoming an inseparable part of it. Thus, the witness in the Holy Saturday helps to set the foundation for the further revelation and the miracle of resurrection, leading to the triumph of faith. Rambo (2010, p. 62) further clarifies that “These two aspects p the mystical vision and the literary expression – witness to this remainder, in all of its chaotic expressions.” As a result, the witnesses and the audiences are capable of accepting the notion of the Holy Saturday systematically. Furthermore, the introduction of the witness to the Holy Saturday helps to reestablish the idea of trauma s the feeling that colored the emotions established in the Biblical narrative. Overall, the presence of the witness in the Holy Saturday context allows setting the basis for the dramatic revelation by creating the sense of urgency and the presence of despair.
Week 5 Reflection Journal
Understanding the importance of the Holy Spirit in the Triune might appear to be slightly difficult due to the lack of connection to or understanding of the nature of It. After embracing the concepts of the Father and the Son, I genuinely struggled to approach the notion of the Holy Spirit both from the traditional Christian and the personal perspectives. However, after considering Rambo’s (2010) interpretation of it, I managed to recognize the Holy Spirit as the quintessence of compassion, support, and unwavering faith that Jesus promoted in His teachings.
Therefore, Rambo’s (2010) description of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Saturday has helped me to embrace the idea of God as the immortal and omnipresent being that guards and supports His children even after they have been morally lost and succumbed to sin. The dark tone of the Biblical narrative, which becomes engulfed in depression and despair as Jesus is crucified, is ever so slightly brightened by the glimmer of hope that the Holy Spirit represents. Introducing the idea of God as an immortal, all-powerful, and omnipresent being, the Holy Spirit as it is portrayed during the Holy Saturday lends a uniquely reassuring tone to the Biblical narrative.
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The resurrecting power that the Holy Spirit represents becomes the beacon of hope for the reader, weaving a unique narrative in which the presence of God remains distinctive while not being visible. Thus, the argument that Rambo (2010) introduces sheds light on the very concept of the Holy Spirit, changing it for the reader entirely. Personally, I used to perceive the Holy Spirit simply as an inseparable part of the Triune nature of God. However, after considering the role that the Holy Spirit plays in the Biblical narrative in the context of the Holy Saturday, I realize that it becomes the embodiment of hope and the power of faith for Christian believers. Namely, it supported and guided Christ’s disciples after Jesus’s death and before His resurrection, representing the immortality of God and the persistence of faith.
In addition to a change in the theological perspective on the Biblical narrative, the specified analysis has also given me an opportunity to relate emotionally to the specified passages in the Bible. The presence of despair and pain experienced by Jesus’s disciples and friends is softened and alleviated as the emergence of the Holy Spirit is established in the text. As a result, the self-sacrifice of Jesus becomes all the more prominent along with the caring and generous nature of God Almighty (Simpson, 2016). Moreover, the reveal of the Holy Spirit as the guiding force for those in despair helps to convey the importance of embracing the Triune concept and especially the function of the Joly Spirit in it for the members of the present-day Christian community. The idea of the supporting force that introduces empathy into the Biblical narrative aligns with the concept of trauma as the ubiquitous and overpowering theme in the narrative (McGrath, 2018). As the Christian community is engulfed by the profound feeling of sorrow, the Holy Spirit provides a chance for reconciliation and healing, thus showing love that God has for His children. Therefore, the focus on the role that the Holy Spirit plays in the context of the Holy Saturday is fully warranted and even necessary for a deeper understanding of the Triune.
Overall, the discussion of the Holy Spirit and Its role in the Holy Saturday has altered my perception of God. Whereas previously, these were mostly the figures of the Father and the Son that were most relatable to me in the Holy Trinity, after considering the specified idea, I managed to relate to the Holy Spirit as an inseparable part of God to a greater extent. The very notion of the Holy Spirit no longer appears to be alien and abstract to me. Quite the contrary, with the reconsideration of its role in the Holy Saturday, I have started viewing it as the force that allows making the presence of God truly ubiquitous and contributes to a greater connection between God and humankind (Rambo, 2010). The Holy Spirit currently represents the personification of compassion to me, allowing making the image of God even more humane and kind to His children, if that is even possible. Indeed, as emphasized above, the Holy Spirit and, particularly, Its role in the present-day Christian context, may be diminished by the increase in the focus on the material reality and the expansion of personal relationships with Jesus. Therefore, the reconsideration of the place that the Holy Spirit has in today’s Christianity and the Christian community has provided a platform for future contemplations and a profound analysis.
Jennings, W.J. (2010). The Christian imagination: Theology and the origins of race. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
McGrath, A. (2018). Theology: The basics (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell.
Rambo, S. (2010). Spirit and trauma: A theology of remaining. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
Simpson, C. (2016). Modern Christian theology. New York, NY: T&T Clark.