theological taproots

In such times as these, my thoughts have circled around the words of the following three (anti-[?]) theologians.

For this post, I will leave the dots unconnected and uncurated — though I think for all their differences of time and circumstance, these three block quotes read rather well together.

1. Paul the Apostle

God chose what the world considers foolish to shame the wise. God chose what the world considers weak to shame the strong. And God chose what the world considers low-class and low-life — what is considered to be nothing — to reduce what is considered to be something to nothing. So no human can brag in God’s presence. It is because of God that you are in Christ Jesus. He became wisdom from God for us. This means he made us righteous and holy, and he delivered us. This is consistent with what was written: The one who brags should brag in the Lord! (1 Corinthians 1:27-31, CEB)

2. Friedrich Nietzsche

Of all that has been done on earth against “the noble,” “the mighty,” “the lords,” “the power-holders,” nothing is worthy of mention in comparison with that which the Jews have done against them: the Jews, that priestly people who in the end were only able to obtain satisfaction from their enemies and conquerors through a radical revaluation of their values, that is, through an act of spiritual revenge […] It was the Jews who in opposition to the aristocratic value equation (good = noble = powerful = beautiful = happy = beloved of God) dared its inversion, with fear-inspiring consistency, and held it fast with teeth of the most unfathomable hate (the hate of the powerless), namely: “the miserable alone are the good; the poor, powerless, lowly alone are the good […] the only blessed by God, for them alone is there blessedness, — whereas for you, you noble and powerful ones, you are in all eternity the evil, the cruel, the lustful, the insatiable, the godless, you will eternally be wretched, accursed, and damned!” We know who inherited this Jewish revaluation […]

This Jesus of Nazareth, as the embodied Gospel of Love, this “Redeemer” bringing blessedness and victory to the poor, the sick, the sinners —was he not precisely seduction in its most uncanny and irresistible form, the seduction and detour to precisely those Jewish values and reshapings of the ideal? Has not Israel reached the final goal of its sublime desire for revenge precisely via the detour of this “Redeemer,” this apparent adversary and dissolver of Israel? Does it not belong to the secret black art of a truly great politics of revenge, of a far-seeing, subterranean, slow-working and pre-calculating revenge, that Israel itself, before all the world, should deny as its mortal enemy and nail to the cross the actual tool of its revenge, so that “all the world,” namely all the opponents of Israel, could take precisely this bait without thinking twice? And, out of all sophistication of the spirit, could one think up any more dangerous bait? Something that in its enticing, intoxicating, anesthetizing, destructive power might equal that symbol of the “holy cross,” that gruesome paradox of a “god on the cross,” that mystery of an inconceivable, final, extreme cruelty and self-crucifixion of God for the salvation of man? (On the Genealogy of Morality, First Treatise, § 7, 8).

3. James Cone

The history of white American theology illustrates the concept of the social a priori asserted by Werner Stark and other sociologists of knowledge whom we discussed earlier. The social environment functions as a “mental grid,” deciding what will be considered as relevant data in a given inquiry. For example, because white theologians are not the sons and daughters of black slaves but the descendants of white slave masters, their theological grid automatically excludes from the field of perception the data of Richard Allen, Henry H. Garnet, Nathaniel Paul, David Walker, and Henry M. Turner […] Again it is obvious that because white theologians were not enslaved and lynched and are not ghettoized because of color, they do not think that color is an important point of departure for theological discourse. Color is not universal they say, moving on to what they regard as the more important problems of theological scholarship […] They must be challenged to take seriously another value system. That is, instead of studying only Jonathan Edwards, they must also examine the reality of David Walker (God of the Oppressed, 48-9).

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