Also by this author: Decolonizing Christianity: Becoming Badass Believers, Resisting Apartheid America: Living the Badass Gospel
Published by Eerdmans on December 11, 2018
Genres: Non-Fiction, Racial Reconciliation
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Short. Timely. Poignant. Pointed. Burying White Privilege is all of these and more. This is the book that everybody who cares about contemporary American Christianity will want to read.
Many people wonder how white Christians could not only support Donald Trump for president but also rush to defend an accused child molester running for the US Senate. In a 2017 essay that went viral, Miguel A. De La Torre boldly proclaimed the death of Christianity at the hands of white evangelical nationalists. He continues sounding the death knell in this book.
De La Torre argues that centuries of oppression and greed have effectively ruined evangelical Christianity in the United States. Believers and clerical leaders have killed it, choosing profits over prophets. The silence concerning—if not the doctrinal justification of—racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia has made white Christianity satanic. Prophetically calling Christian nationalists to repentance, De La Torre rescues the biblical Christ from the distorted Christ of white Christian imagination.
Burying White Privilege is the first of Miguel A. de la Torre’s Badass Christianity trilogy, preceding Decolonizing Christianity and Resisting Apartheid America. I had not read de la Torre before and let me tell you, I was not prepared. De La Torre writes like a prizefighter. It’s punch after punch after punch. And he’s not above a few low blows, either. Passionate. Vitriolic. Imprecatory. De La Torre leaves no doubt where he stands.
The basic thesis of Burying White Privilege is that centuries of oppression and colonizing have made white evangelical Christianity in the United States into a false religion centered on empowering those who are white. He writes to white Christians—both evangelical and mainstream, conservative and neoliberal—and prophetically calls them to repentance and toward a brown-skinned Jesus who sides with the oppressed.
It’s important to note that de la Torre, following other liberation theologians like Cone and Jennings, speaks of “whiteness” as a way of being that isn’t inherent to melanin or lack thereof. He writes “the word white in my usage has nothing to do with the color of one’s skin. Instead, it has to do with worldview, a way of being, thinking, and reasoning morally. A white Christian can be black, Latinx, Muslim, or atheist. While it might be easier for those with whiter skin to embrace white Christianity, those of us who would never be considered white by our physical appearance have also had our minds so colonized that it is difficult to break free from this white, Christian milieu.” More so than anyone else I’ve read, de la Torre explains with clarity the difference between having light skin (being white) and having a American or Eurocentric view of superiority (being White). This is a helpful and needed distinction and Burying White Privilege is able to defend the use of the term white as part of the nomenclature and show how whiteness has created privilege out of oppression.
Burying White Privilege is clear that white theology based on Eurocentric philosophy is beyond reform. There is no staying within the system to work from within. Those committed to the work of Jesus must recognize that it is dead and let it die. Only then can it be resurrected into something new and transformed. De La Torre’s words are harsh and sharp, but they are needed. He displays a prophetic zeal that condemns, but is still clear about the possibility of redemption. A bold and badass message for our times.