God is Not [and has never been] White: Biblical Post-colonial Theology

By Jarrod McKenna 5-29-2009

"The Bible knows nothing about peace without justice," said that great prophet of joyful restorative justice, Desmond Tutu, when he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

This past Tuesday, May 26, marks "Sorry Day" in Australia where the Australians pause to acknowledge there is no future without confessing and seeking to heal the pain of the genocide of Aboriginal peoples and the evils that created the 'stolen generation.'

I was teaching on post-colonial missiology in Aotearoa [New Zealand] and was asked, "What do you think is the most important Australian contribution to this area?" My answer: "The Rainbow Spirit Theology: Toward an Australian Aboriginal Theology" (recently re-released). As a way of marking "Sorry Day," I'd like to share some of my favourite quotes from this amazing book as a prayer for repentance and as a prayer for real justice for indigenous people everywhere.

  • "In Jesus Christ we see the mystery, the victory and the love of God revealed. Most missionaries kept that revelation partially hidden because they presented Christ as a European Jesus who had little or no kinship with Aboriginal culture."
  • "The Creator Spirit is crying because the blood of Aboriginal people has desecrated the land. The land is crying out because the blood shed on the land has not been heard, and the sacrifice of those who died has not been remembered. The people are crying because the crimes committed against their ancestors have not been revealed and appropriately recognized."
  • "Human beings are entrusted with the responsibility to cooperate with the Creator Spirit both to care for and activate the life-forces within the land."
  • "The Creator Spirit is crying because the deep spiritual bonds with the land and its people have been broken. The land is crying because it is slowly dying without the bond of spiritual life. The people are crying because they long for a restoration of that deep spiritual bond with the Creator Spirit and the land."
  • "The life giving power of the Creator Spirit was always close to our people. We believe that this power took on human flesh in Jesus Christ, and fulfilled the searchings of the people of the Old Testament and of Aboriginal people."
  • "For the work of reconciliation in Christ to be effective, the Christian churches in Australia need to acknowledge the crimes committed against Aboriginal people, their culture, and their land; seek reconciliation; and work with Aboriginal people in their struggles for justice."
  • "The Christ who suffered on the cross continues to suffer with the land and the people of the land. In the suffering of the land and the people of the land, we see Christ suffering and we hear Christ crying out."
  • "The suffering land is the groaning creation referred to in the New Testament. Christ came among us to overcome the powers under which the suffering land is groaning. The evil which Christ overcomes is not only personal sin, but the forces which enslave people in society and in the environment in which we live."

I'd also like to offer this reflection on the life of Jesus by the amazing prophetic indigenous musician, Kev Carmody (covered here by Aussie Hip Hop act "The Herd"). In this music and in these words may we as the church hear Christ's call to collaborate with the Spirit in living a Calvary-like love and never again collaborate in the colonizing forces of Empire.

portrait-jarrod-mckennaJarrod McKenna is seeking to live God's love. As a Vine and Fig Tree Planter, he plants "signs" on military bases that draw the connections between God's kingdom, militarism, and climate change. He is a co-founder of the Peace Tree Community, serving with the marginalized in one of the poorest areas in his city, heads up Together for Humanity in Western Australia (an interfaith youth initiative serving together for the common good), and is the founder and creative director of Empowering Peacemakers (EPYC), for which he has received an Australian peace award for his work in empowering a generation of (eco)evangelists and peace prophets.

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