Resisting Apartheid America – Miguel A. De La Torre

Resisting Apartheid America: Living the Badass Gospel by Miguel A. de la Torre
Also by this author: Burying White Privilege: Resurrecting a Badass Christianity, Decolonizing Christianity: Becoming Badass Believers
Published by Eerdmans on January 31, 2023
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Racial Reconciliation
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Miguel De La Torre foresees a future America dominated by white nationalists—and equips us with the tools to resist it. 

In Burying White Privilege, he opened our eyes to white Christians’ complicity in maintaining racist hierarchy in America. In its sequel, Decolonizing Christianity, he encouraged us to decolonize Christianity and return it to its revolutionary roots. Now, in his conclusion to the trilogy, Miguel A. De La Torre shows us the America on our horizon, should we continue down the path of heretical white Christianity—and the outlook is not bright. 

Resisting Apartheid America assesses the past and present threads of systemic racism in American politics, from Plymouth Rock to the Capitol on January 6. Sweeping and unsparing in his critique, De La Torre takes on authors revered in Christian theology, including Paul, Augustine, and heroes of the Reformation, aiming to uproot the ideological foundations of racism in Christianity. Following these through lines of oppression, he warns of a decline in democracy and rise in political violence—but equips us with the nonviolent ethical framework to resist this bleak future. Resisting Apartheid America is a clarion call to Christians to remake America in the image of the God of liberation.

Resisting Apartheid America is Miguel A. De La Torre’s third and final book in the Badass Gospel trilogy. Burying White Privilege talked about how racist hierarchy has been maintained in our systems of government, economics, and the social fabric. Decolonizing Christianity was more of the same, concluding with a call to return Christianity to its revolutionary roots. Now, in the conclusion De La Torre prophetically looks forward to what a white nationalist future would look like and how we might resist it.

In the first chapter, De La Torre calls “Eurochristianity” America’s greatest threat. He traces the history of America—not the sanitized and whitewashed one, but the real one—as one that led naturally to the rise of white nationalism. Resisting Apartheid America calls out not just one political party but an entire system, writing that Democrats are just as racist as Republicans and that we have not seen nationalism repudiated despite the election of a Democrat president.

In the second chapter, De La Torre goes as far as to blame the Apostle Paul for Eurochristianity. While I think this argument could be outlined—Paul’s Macedonian call in Acts changes his trajectory from Asia to Europe—De La Torre’s tone and rhetoric aren’t helpful here to his claims. While he correctly links Pauline philosophy to Stoicism, he does not provide enough evidence outside of bombastic rhetoric to prove that the “gospel message of Jesus” was altered by moving into the Greco-Roman world. The rest of the chapter I can agree with more readily, although De La Torre’s tone continues to trump substance. He details the problematic influences of Justin Martyr and Augustine in shaping early Eurocentric theology. Perhaps most provokingly, he points toward substitutionary atonement as the pinnacle of Eurochristianity and suggests that it is a complete misreading of Scripture.

The chapters that follow move back into politics and the modern age, with Resisting Apartheid America boldly making the claim that the rise of white nationalism was to be expected. January 6th was not an aberration, De La Torre writes, but an accurate reflection of the Euro-American psyche. We have reached a tipping point and democracies do not live forever. However, De La Torre ends on a bittersweet note of hope: If America is to be saved, it must die and be resurrected into something new.

Reading the Badass Christianity trilogy has been thought-provoking. I find myself much more conservative than De La Torre theologically. De La Torre writes that God may or may not exist and that it doesn’t really matter. But I find myself a bit closer to him politically. I have been just as disgusted by the actions and beliefs of those who call themselves Christians. And as I read these books, I kept asking myself if De La Torre’s rhetoric and tone seemed helpful. In some ways, it is. He doesn’t hold back. You can feel the hurt that he has experienced personally and prophetically, as he stands in place of all marginalized and oppressed. But in other ways, untampered by practical suggestions for reform or substance to back up his rhetoric (even when it is there), makes him easily dismissed. De La Torre is a voice to rally the revolutionaries, not so much a voice convincing the other side to defect. Resisting Apartheid America tears off the polite veneer of America and exposes its racist foundations. The only solution, then, is to tear it all down and build something new from the ashes.