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Alastair Roberts @zugzwanged
, 20 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
There has been an extensive conversation about the importance of non-white male voices in theology that unexpectedly sprung out of an unrelated tweet I posted. I've barely been on Twitter today and have only occasionally checked in with bemusement and frustration at some of >>
>> the comments. The following are a few thoughts:

1. The laudable concern to make contexts of theological discourse more accessible and welcoming to women and minorities is far too frequently accompanied with the questionable notion that, without such persons, theology >>
>> is deeply intellectually compromised as a discipline.

It really isn't, folks.

2. White males doing theology isn't the same thing as them doing 'white male theology'. Theology is ordered towards a horizon that draws us beyond our parochial identities and vantage points, >>
>> towards Truth that transcends our particular contexts, drawing us into discourses that traverse many contexts.

3. Our understanding will always be conditioned by our vantage points. But as we are ordered towards the horizon of divine Truth, all particularities of vantage >>
>> points will be increasingly challenged and relativized. This applies to women and persons of colour too.

4. The demographic fault lines that provoke our contemporary concerns for diversity really don't neatly correspond with those differences of perspective that are most >>
>> illuminating for our understanding of Christian truth.

5. Women and persons of colour in the West are largely functioning out of various existing Western traditions of theology, articulating their identities within their paradigms. They don't really represent traditions of >>
>> theology distinct to themselves.

6. People who so foreground identity and diversity tend to constrain the realm of theological enquiry in a manner corresponding to their fixation upon the theologizing subject. The more we focus upon objects of theological enquiry beyond >>
>> our identities and contexts, the less relevant our identities will tend to be. Contextual theologies tend to be fairly narrow in their scope of theological interest and are less and less encountered the more deeply you venture into the depths of the subject. >>
>> 7. There ARE vantage points and perspectives that do offer peculiar insight. However, these vantage points tend to be those of people in highly developed and distinct traditions, people who enjoy a particular closeness to the conceptual and contextual worlds of the >>
>> Scriptures (people who retain more pre-modern imaginaries, for instance), or brilliant theological minds of profoundly different eras and worlds. And the perspectives of people who have deeply acquainted themselves with such perspectives are also very valuable. >>
>> 8. The fetishization of some highly abstract 'marginalized' viewpoint should be rejected. God takes especial concern for vulnerable persons, but a) their viewpoints aren't so theologically privileged; b) few supposed 'marginalizations' are especially theologically salient. >>
>> 9. The notion that the category of the 'marginalized' is especially illuminating when applied to principal biblical figures is also quite questionable. While they typically had opponents and were often mistreated or rejected, most of them were prominent and powerful figures >>
>> in their societies. None of them were women. None of them were non-Israelites.

And yet this is how God chose to reveal his truth to us.

10. Categories like 'white' are quite anachronistic when applied to a great many people in Church history.

11. Over-focus on identities >>
>> is a serious threat to the method of theology, particularly to the rigorous stress-testing and challenging of perspectives that its form of enquiry requires. Theology is not here to validate our identities and perspectives, but to call us beyond them. >>
>> 12. While they are not without moments of insight, the theologies produced by foregrounding identities are almost invariably far more Western, modern, and preoccupied with their own culture than they are peculiarly comported to divine truth in a manner that affords insight. >>
>> 13. You would probably be better off spending your time reading a wide range of white males who are genuinely and humbly seeking to comport themselves to a vast horizon of enquiry beyond themselves than to focus on theologies produced by people who believe their natural >>
>> vantage points offer them a peculiarly privileged perspective upon divine truth.

14. The term 'idolatry' needs to be applied with care. However, it is important to notice how many contemporary theologies are much more about the theologian and their identity group than they >>
>> are about God. There is a sort of self-forgetfulness that healthy theology should encourage that is undermined in such cases.

15. Exercising a Christian concern and regard for the poor, the fatherless, the widow, the stranger, etc. should not be confused with foregrounding >>
>> their natural vantage points and subjectivities in our theology. A supposed concern for neighbour increasingly prioritized over faithful pursuit of the knowledge and service of God is a very dangerous thing. The second great command flows from the first or is badly distorted.
Note, this should read 'principal biblical authors'
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