Christianity to hop on the anti-Western bandwagon?

There’s an excellent article on the Brussels Journal on the possible implications of Christianity becoming a majority-non-Western religion.  Matthew Roberts reports Philip Jenkins’ research on the spread of Christianity in the Global South.  As Jenkins reports, not only will Christianity in the future be a faith practiced primarily by non-Westerners, the faith is being adjusted and reinterpreted to fit native sensibilities.  Jenkins thinks this all for the good, but the diversity he reports goes far beyond black Madonnas, and I don’t like the looks of it.  But didn’t the early Church do the same thing, incorporating Greek philosophy and Roman law?  Yes, but here’s the difference:  Greeks were excellent philosophers, and Romans were excellent legislators.  I fail to see how Christianity is being enriched by African superstition or mestizo entho-chauvinism.  Consider

“[A key concept among Latinos] is that of mestizaje, ‘mixed-ness’, that status of being mestizo or mixed blood. In contemporary theology, mestizaje is so critical because it transcends traditional racial hierarchies. It thus comes closer to the New Testament goal of a society without racial privilege or domination, in there is neither Jew nor Greek, Latino nor Anglo. And while mixed-race people were traditionally marginalized and despised, newer theologians see this status as uniquely privileged…. [In The Future is Mestizo, Virgilio Elizondo] presents Jesus as a mestizo son of Galilee’s mixed and marginalized society, who enters the great city of Jerusalem in order to challenge its wealth, to confront the racial arrogance of the pure-blooded elite.”

Jesus was a mestizo, got it?  That’s nowhere in the Bible or sacred tradition, but who cares about that when the racial promotion of third-worlders is at stake.

The main “enrichment” that native cultures seem to bring to Christianity is self-pity.  The Gospel is really a story about how the white man is picking on them.  Native cultures seem to have become a machine that takes anything as input and process it into that same output.  It wasn’t always like this.  Once, other cultures thought as little about us as we did about them.  If only Matteo Ricci had converted China, the faith might have been enriched by Confucism or Daoism.  Today, the world seems to have absorbed the Western idea of basing one’s self-worth on claims of victimization.  We have truly corrupted them.  I would be happy to be proven wrong here.  Can somebody tell me what African or South American theology/philosophy is offering other than self-pity and white-bashing?

This doesn’t seem to be a stable situation.  The white, Western fraction of humanity is shrinking, and this demographic trend will probably continue for generations.  What are these poor, poor oppressed peoples going to do when there are few white people left to define themselves against?  Can there be a planet of nothing but victims?  Maybe then the Gospel will be read differently.  When people read Jesus calling sinners to repent, they won’t assume that he means “those dirty white bastards”.  They might even consider that he means them.

13 Responses

  1. This may be overly optimistic, but I’m not convinced that the kind of anti-Western liberation theology you describe is representative of Christian converts in the Third World. (At least not any more than the ideas of Karl Barth, say, represent those of the average pious Protestant.) The passage you quoted doesn’t sound like something that a sane human being — Christian or Pagan, Roman or Afro-Carribean — would believe, especially not someone from a non-Western society where liberalism has made relatively little headway. It sounds like the sort of tiers-mondialiste BS that elites like to attribute to native peoples, and I think (and hope) that that’s all it is.

  2. What are these poor, poor oppressed peoples going to do when there are few white people left to define themselves against?

    What have the anti-racists done now that there are so few racists left to define themselves against?

  3. They’ve expanded the definition of racism. Are you suggesting that next they will expand the definition of “white” or “Western”? That’s a disturbing thought. Then this thing really could go on forever.

  4. Hello Svein,

    I hope you’re right, although I’m not sure that liberalism–in its grievance-mongering form–hasn’t made significant inroads in Latin America. After all, most Latin American countries have been controlled by liberal anti-clerical regimes (of either the right-liberal or left-revolutionary type) for most of their post-independence history. Their whole claim to legitimacy is that they’ve “rescued” their people from the Spanish and their priests. They’ve got a lot riding on the people believing this humbug.

  5. Indeed, historical grievances NEVER go away.

  6. I am heartened that Christianity is revitalized in the Third World while the First World slides into satanic decadence.

  7. Fair point about Latin America, although I think it’s heartening how much popular opposition the region’s anti-clerical regimes have faced. (One word: Cristeros.)

    By the way, if you haven’t seen it already, Matthew Roberts over at Alternative Right has a piece about exactly the same issue as your post.

  8. The information you are providing here about theology in Latin America presenting “Jesus as a mestizo” is actually not accurate. What I think is this author (Virgilio Elizondo) is an isolated theologian, but this is not the current doctrine taught in any seminary or any theology school in Latin America as anyone might expect. The reason I say this is not accurate is because what is now latin america was converted to christianity by the Spanish before any of this unsound ideas were current and actually by that time noone felt the need to adjust faith in order “to fit native sensibilities”. We have to keep in mind that what is now called Latin America has been christian since the sixteenth century, thank to the policy of spreading christian faith that the Spanish employed as part of the conquest. Now to consider a latinamerican a non-western christian is not accurate either, because of the culture that we have inherited from the spanish. Our legal system is one based on roman and canon law, the literature we study is the same literature any spanish reads, many of our institiutions have been inherited from the spanish and our language has sprung from latin. Is there anything else that we need to have in order to be considered westerners?

    I totally agree with you as for the liberal and socialist movements that have encoraged a strong anti-clericalism. This is one of the factors that catholics, like me, worry about.

  9. Hello Izaba,

    I’m reassured by your impression that the racialist liberation theologians aren’t dominant. Given that that continent is run by socialists, it seems that Christians of any sort are a marginal force, but that matters less to me than that a large fraction of what Christians there are are real Christians.

    I think it would be sensible to classify Latin America as part of the West, but I thought that Latin Americans themselves don’t like to see themselves that way, preferring to imagine themselves part of the victimized, nonwhite, innocent victims of evil Western colonialism.

  10. It is true that some people in Latin American prefer not to be identified with the West and this is because the propaganda employed by both liberals and socialists has sent the message that we are despised by white people. You are totally right when you say that people in Latin America has assumed that we are “innocent victims of evil Western colonialism” but this is because of the propaganda of this ideological movements and we can not say that it is the majority which supports this view . Due to this propaganda, we are inclined to think that we have more in common with the indians than with the spanish, but that’s simply not true. Latin America would be something very different from what it is now if the spanish had never conquered and colonized these lands. As I said before, our legal system was inherited from the spanish; our language is spanish (few people speak any native language); in our schools we study the same authors as any other spanish or european (Plato, Aristotle, Saint Augustin, Saint Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Chateaubriand, etc), so as you can see there is no way we can escape western civilization. We have been educated in this culture, and that is why I say that it is not accurate to state that Latin America does not belong to the western culture. What happens is that we have been influenced by these leftist movements that try to encourage hard feelings against Europe or the United States, but if we look at our culture and consider it objectively we need to conclude that our culture has been inherited from Spain. Also, those who are loyal to the Roman Pontiff can hardly consider christianity as a invading religion, that is why we, catholics, do not look at the spanish with suspicion or hatred; on the contrary, we have devotion for spanish saints like Saint Dominic, Saint Ignatius and all the missionaries that came here. The schools and the Universities that are consider as the best ones are catholic schools and universities.

    Another fact I need to bring into this reply is that if we were not westerners we would not have issues with indian communities. In those countries where there are still strong indian commnunities, there are conflicts, and this is because there is hardly any understanding between them and the “mestizos”. The indians are acostummed to call us “españoles” and this is because they notice that their culture and ours are different. I would still like to know why you consider “it would be sensible to classify Latin America as part of the West”. Lord James Bryce in his book “South America” considers Latin America as part of the west, explaining that our culture is undoubtly latin, that is, a culture that we have inherited from Continental Europe through Spain. I have noticed that in one of your replies you stated that the fact the definition of Western can be expanded is disturbing. I hope you will not see the facts that I offer in this reply as an intention to expand the definition of western.

    By the way, I would like to state that I love your blog and that I visit it everyday. Congratulations!

  11. “but that matters less to me than that a large fraction of what Christians there are are real Christians”. You sound as if in The United States of America there were more real Christians than in any part of Latin America. Actually I would like to know If it´s possible to find more christians in the USA than in Latin America.

    We do not feel uncomfortable to be labled as westerners. Actually It is Americans and Europeans who deny that we are westerners. Just check Pat Buchanan´s book “The Death of the West” in which he considers mexican inmigrants as a threat to “Western Civilization”. I understand your concerns about inmigration and I think those concerns are legitimate, but are Mexican inmigrants a threat to western civilization or just American culture? I think “Western Civilizaton” has a broader meaning and in this sense, Latin American inmigrants should not be considered as a threat to wester civilization but to American Culture.

  12. Hello Izaba,

    Actually, I would say that “fake” Christianity is a much worse problem in the USA. In my country, nearly everyone calls himself a Christian but endorses beliefs and behaviors incompatible with the religion. I’m not talking about Christians who fail to live up to their beliefs–everyone since Christ has been guilty of that. I mean things like their casual acceptance of divorce and rejection of the Real Presence. What I meant by that statement about “what Christians there are are real Christians” was that I was encouraged by your description of a more vigorous Christianity in Latin America. I think it’s pretty plain that atheist socialism is the dominant belief system in South America (just like atheist free-market feminism is the dominant belief system in North America), but as long as the local Church sees this belief system as an enemy to be defeated rather than something to be pandered to, there is hope.

    I’m happy to accept that anyone who thinks he’s a westerner is a westerner. If you feel personally insulted when people run down European Christendom, then we’re part of the same civilization.

  13. I think that Liberalism is a greater force than socialism in Latin America. It is true that your country was founded by Liberals, but those Liberals at least were more moderate than those who founded our countries. Latin American Liberals were inspired by the French Revolutionists and they are still inspired by them. This means that Our “founders” were more aggresive and destructive than The United States Founding Fathers, because ours are more like Jacobins. The worst of all this is that People are inclined to think that all our history has begun with the French Revolution and the Independence movement and that we do not owe anything to the precedent period. Most People deny that we owe our existence to Spain. They are not able to recognize that if Spain had never conquered these lands, this continent wouldn’t be what it is now. At least, I consider that you, Americans, are more respectful towards England.

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