Much in Every Way: Employing the Concept of Race in Theological Anthropology and Christian Practice


Jeff M. Liou

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This dissertation joins the growing body of theological reflection upon the issues raised by the survival, ubiquity, and evolving significance of racialized imagination and racial identity in the US. In contrast to other works, though, this project emerges from the Reformed tradition. Neo-Calvinism of the Kuyperian strain, though it has been criticized for producing (or failing to apprehend) the cancerous spread of Apartheid in South Africa, has nonetheless articulated a soaring vision of a pluriform eschaton and has denounced both the easily observable manifestations of racism as well as the deeper imagination-level toxicity that contemporary scholars have deployed critical tools to dismantle. This dissertation will argue that the basic confessional affirmations and criticisms of Kuyperian theology pertaining to human pluriformity and human inequality, respectively, provide an indispensable corrective for contemporary approaches to race in the US. However, the criticism that Kuyperian theology’s failings stem from a lack of concreteness and specificity—especially pertaining to bodies—will be elaborated, granted and extended. Nevertheless, critical tools can be deployed to build and not demolish the Dutch Reformed tradition. The constructive proposals that emerge from neo-Calvinist eschatology and pneumatology are too fertile to be ignored. In fact, the historical dispute regarding the role of Kuyperian theology in South African apartheid must be reexamined. It will be argued that the Kuyperian tradition, though it fails at critical junctures, must fulfill its proposed, pluriform eschatology by incorporating cultural tools that have mostly been ignored by those who traverse the black-white binary characteristic of theological and ethical reflection on race in the US. The black-white binary perpetually performs a dialectic in which oppressor and oppressed are locked and unfairly requires other diverse groups to choose sides. Revelation 7:9, frequently used to promote a generic appreciation for diversity, actually prescribes caution about siding with power in the form of capital. Ultimately, the kind of cosmopolitan, coalition-building, public theology and ethics which affirm and prescribe the interdependence of humanity for pluriform cultural tools can find biblical and theological voicing in what Kuyperian theology has historically confessed about creation, the image of God, and the future.

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PHD in Theology

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Mouw, Richard

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Abraham Kuyper, Theological anthropology, Biblical teaching, Race relations, Reformed Church, Racism


Missions and World Christianity


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