Atheists And Christians Promoting Empire; What A Novel Concept!

“I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe.This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.”- Matthew Parris, Atheist

“Anxiety – fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things – strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought”- Matthew Parris, Atheist

“Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.- Matthew Parris, Atheist

2 disclaimers before I get saddled by some orthodox Gatekeeper:

1st, Yes I am a Christian and I believe the Good News of Jesus Christ raised again should be shared with everyone,

2nd, I am a postcolonial because of Jesus and his life, his ministry, and the Old Testament prophetic tradition. If you haven’t read this blog before, now you know.

This is my response to The Gospel Coalition’s latest post on Africa which is basically affirming an Atheist who is promoting empire. If there is one thing that Western Christians and atheists have in common it is a shared legacy of colonizing bodies of color. In the above quotes, I cited atheist Matthew Parris’ GODLY (according to the Gospel Coalition) article, As An atheist, I truly believe Africa Needs God, I just wanted to point to the problematic approach that Parris is taking. It’s not the good news of Jesus rising from the dead he wants Christian missionaries to share. Missionaries are Parris’ preferred vehicles for Western values, capitalism, and rugged individualism. Notice that his conclusion is all about the material possessions that Africans could have if they only accept white Jesus as dey lawd and saviah, ahem!

Matthew Parris’ article is a prime example in the long line of racist secularists who teamed up with racist “Christians” to promote empire. For every Jonathan Edwards, there’s a David Hume. For every John Piper, there’s a Deepak Chopra. Imperialist Christians and so-called humanists alike look at Africa through Colonizing Gazes, as AFRICA is always the childish, immature backwoods, rustic country always in need of depending on the good-hearted Western nation-states.

Facts do not matter when it comes to racist myths, always remember this. Africa has a great number of Christians. Any simple research on African Christianity will lead you to see that African Christianity is not about Eurocentric religions or theology. I have also talked about the obvious long history of Christianity in Africa, but more importantly, there is no such thing as a united Africa, first and foremost. The reason why Africa is organized the way it is now, struggling nation-states (code: imitating European colonizers) was because of the British, German, Italian, Dutch, and American empires imposing themselves through violence on Africans. Yes, Matthew Parris stepped into Africa (but did he tour the entire country, ooops I MEANT CONTINENT!!!!), but he brought his racist, essentialist, imperialist gaze with him. Africans are not people to him, they are objects to receive the West’s goodness (grace?).

Now, in the TGC article,*

“He [Parris] effectively illustrates how a Christian worldview may be the only thing weighty enough to crush traditional pagan worldviews that stifle and stunt.”

Later in a conversation on Twitter, a member of the TGC defended the comments:

tgc pagan

Paganism, if it is just “the rustic way of life in the country side,” Jesus needs to save country folks and what? Deliver them into the city? No, that’s not how pagan is being used here. It’s about African Traditional Religions, with their beliefs in the spirits and ancestors. Do you know what a pagan looks like? Here is a picture of a pagan:

Adam Smith was a pagan. The Gospel Coalition keeps defending Adam Smith, therefore, they are pagan. Why is Adam Smith pagan? Because he based his economic system off of Greek philosophy and polytheism, that’s where the idea of the Invisible Hand comes from. It took a good free-will believing Christian named John Wesley to confront Adam Smith’s paganism. And Africa needs to be saved from witchCraft? What about the Warlocks of Deception at the TGC and their stance on race: singing the praises of holy hip hop one day, but praising neo-confederate Douglas Wilson the next. In the Bible (remember King Saul), witches called upon dead souls who were resting in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I don’t see any difference between that Witchcraft and the TGC Calling upon dead white guys to promote an oppressive theology!

In undergrad, I had a Ghanian who told me about his experience in the school system there, how Christian holidays are recognized by everyone, and even non-Christians have to recognize them (it’s a holiday, yo!), and I remember how this story just really bothered me and made me question the way I saw Africa, not as the eternal essential oriental other I was taught, but as unique, with cultures as equally valid and made in the Imago Dei as all others. Parris is promoting the exact opposite, Africa’s cultural inequality (something the Gossip Kkkoalition’s homeboy, Douglas Wilson also affirms). NeoColonialism/Empire, regardless of the defender’s creed (atheist or calvinist), is an equal opportunity racist.

*Editor’s note: This post has been corrected to reflect the articles linked.

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h00die_R (Rod)

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11 thoughts on “Atheists And Christians Promoting Empire; What A Novel Concept!

  1. Hey brother,

    Thanks for this post and your continuing thoughts on the issue. I appreciate both.

    Just three quick points of clarification:

    1. The comment you allege was deleted is not deleted. It’s not in the comments section as you thought, but in the body of the post. Check the second to last paragraph. I assume that’s an honest mistake; it can be easy to forget where you read something when you’re reading and re-reading a lot of comments. But I think you give the faulty impression that I’ve tried to slyly back away from a comment when I haven’t. It would be good to perhaps correct that.

    2. The screen shot you use of our twitter conversation and your post makes it look as if I left the definition of “pagan” at “country dweller.” I go on to say the term is used to “refer to any religion other than the major monotheistic religions of the world.” We may not like the term because of all its connotations, some of which have been used to justify unspeakably demonic treatment of peoples, but the definition I gave when asked was pretty much a basic textbook definition. Your post makes it seem like I was trying to avoid the pejorative connotations and resultant abuses. I am not; just trying to use the word honestly, however problematically.

    3. Finally, It would also be good to state categorically that there is no “TGC position” on Doug Wilson or any of his views, and that lumping all the bloggers into something that sounds like a pro-Doug Wilson position is unwarranted. I’ve never written anything on my blog that comes remotely close to supporting Wilson’s views on slavery, and I can’t think of anyone else who has.

    Grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to both dialogue and offer these clarifications.

    Grace and peace to you,
    T

    • I have friends who self-identify as pagans. Which means that they *chose* to id as such. Because, generally-speaking, the term has bad, malignant connotations. Especially in terms of how we gaze at the continent of Africa. When you combine that term with “tribal witchcraft,” the implications are even more serious, the connotations ever more… is “dark” the correct word?

      • Like you, I have friends who identify as “pagans.” I also know folks who identify as “witches”–both of the Wicka variety and the South African pastor friend who’s mom is a prominent sangoma. Yes, I would call it “dark,” but not because I’m borrowing the color symbolism of racial hatred. I would call it “dark” because that’s what the Bible calls it. Though I run the significant risk of being confused with the “malignant connotations” you rightly mention, I intend to speak of these things in as distinctively Christian and biblical a way possible. If we’re being charitable with one another, I have to take pains to say what I don’t mean and join you in opposing injustice, while you take pains to understand what I do mean and, hopefully, allow me the freedom to speak in what I understand to be Christian terms. I hope that’s possible.
        T-

        • First, as a Christian, I can argue all day that there is no one voice for what is or isn’t Christian or biblical. Instead, I will propose a question:

          Is the Jesus you follow the kind of person who would constantly belittle people by calling them degrading names?

          You say the names are apt. They are not. Not if they are linked to a racist near-history. One can say that the term “s**c” (used for my people) is fine, as it’s short-hand of the descriptor “Hispanic.” But that word has baggage that is irretrievable. If you called me or my friends or clients or students or anybody that term, I would want to slap you.

          I’m sure you can think of many other terms that are similar. The point being, words have power – and our tongues are on fire from hell. Why not do the right thing and acknowledge that those words are wrong and gravely evil. Apologize and retract the usage of such terms as they feed into the horribly negative racism of Parris’ neo-colonialism.

          • To your question, read the gospels. Consider his stinging denouncements in tha Olivet Discourse.

            As for other words, what words would you use?

            Thus far, you are the one saddling these terms with race and racist meaning. I have not used a single racial slur. You’re trying to make an apple into an orange. Using the term pagan or witchcraft is not the same as using racial slurs. Pagan applies to folks all over the planet without regard to race. I pointed that out in our twitter exchange. Let’s have an honest conversation by working to understand what we each mean.

            As for worldview, which worldview and is it truly biblical is the correct challenge and question to pose. At least then we’re trying to work out our faith in praxis.

            T

          • Do you mean where Jesus was calling the religious leaders a “brood of vipers” and “white-washed tombs”? You are aware of why he was using such terms and to whom he was using such terms, eh? It wasn’t for having the wrong doctrine – as the typical Evangelical line goes. It certainly wasn’t for being the wrong race or for being in the wrong continent.

            The *only* time we see something similar in Jesus was with the Syro-Phoenician woman. And guess what? He apologized.

  2. I appreciated your post. Whenever people speak of a Christian worldview I want to know whose Christian and why should I have his view of the world?

    But seriously located in the phrase Christian worldview is a normalizing value judgment that assumes the authenticity and superiority of one Christian culture and its values. In this case capital and rugged individualism.

    Secondly, I’m confused when is Africa the continent that needs saving? And when is it the content that will save?

    It’s the continent that will “save” Agnlicans from ordained gays and lesbians. It will save Episcopalians from women bishops.

    Low church Protestantism from liberalism

    Return evangelicalism to its roots

    Bring about the next Christendom

    Bring a Pentecostal revival

    Finally as you point out why is it that America and Europe are always seen as diverse and the lets be honest here third world is a monolith.

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  4. For a well traveled guy and seasoned communicator, Thabiti’s “Parris” post was stupendously tone deaf. Would you use those words if you were writing for, say, religion section of the Post ? Those pejoratives diminish whatever you were trying to communicate. Pretty straightforward.

    Thanks for stopping by.

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