Christianity, Empire and the Spirit

(Re)Configuring Faith and the Cultural


In Christianity, Empire and The Spirit, Néstor Medina uncovers the cultural processes that play a crucial role in influencing how people understand reality, express the Christian faith, and think about God. He uses decolonial thinking, Latina/o theology, and Pentecostal theology to show how the cultural dimension is a central feature in the biblical text; was the force that coopted Christianity from the imperial era of Constantine onwards; and undergirded Western European colonialism and the missionary project. He engages with Protestant and Catholic articulations on “culture” and demonstrates how most theologians perpetuate Eurocentric frames for considering the relation between Christianity and the cultural dimension. Alternatively, he offers a theological proposal that recognizes the Spirit at work in the phenomena of cultures.
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Biographical Note

Néstor Medina, PhD. (2008), St. Michael’s College, is sessional lecturer at Emmanuel College, University of Toronto. He has published many articles and book chapters on Latina/o theology and culture including Mestizaje: (Re)Mapping “Race,” Culture, and Faith in Latina/o Catholicism (Orbis, 2009).

Table of contents

Acknowledgements Introduction  The Problem with “Culture”  The Cultural  The Chapters 1 Toward a Broad Description of the Cultural  Introduction  Social Dimension of the Cultural  Contested Nature of Cultural Traditions  The Dynamic between Cultures  The Dynamic Character of Cultures  The Breadth of the Cultural  Religion (Christianity) as a Cultural Element    Religion: Another Modern Notion    Religion as a Cultural Activity  The Cultural and Theology  Concluding Comments 2 Culture in Early Christianity  Introduction  The Bible as Cultural Document    The Processes of Ethnocultural Construction of Israel in the Hebrew Scripture    The Cultural in the Creation Accounts    The Cultural Content in the Covenant with Abraham    The Linguistic Side to the Cultural    The Cultural in Marriage Customs    Religious Cultures and Cultural Intersections in the New Testament    The Cultural in Jesus and the Samaritan Woman    The Cultural and Notions of Alterity  The Early Christians and the Cultural    Cultural Negotiations in the Early Church    Beyond the Early Church 3 The Cultural on the Other Side of the Imperial Mirror  Introduction  The Emergence of “Western Europe”  Constructing Knowledge Systems about the Rest of the World    Looking into the Mirror of “Western Civilization”: Sources    Mythological Stories    Tales of Travelers    The Classics    The Christian Story as Source    “Western Civilization” and the “New Worlds”    Background    Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda    “Western Civilization” and “The Rest” of the World  Western European Imperialism: A Cultural Project 4 The Cultural, Missions, and Mainline Protestants Theologians  Introduction  Protestant Missions and Evangelization as Extension of Empire  (Re)Connecting Christianity and Culture (the Cultural) among Protestants    Connecting Culture and Religion: Arnold, Eliot and Frye    The Cultural as Intellectual Endeavor: Herridge and Machen    Culture as Service to God: Schilder and Van Til    Christianity and Culture, the Enduring Debate: Tillich and Meland  Reestablishing the Connections 5 Richard Niebuhr and the Enduring Debate  Introduction  Introduction   Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture   Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture Reformulated?    Anabaptist Rethinking of Christ and Culture: Carter and Friesen    Reformed Evangelical Approach to Christ and Culture: Carson    A Methodist Theological Proposal: Long   Christ and Culture in the Global South: Trimiew, Fujiwara and Fukue  Bridging the Debates on the Cultural 6 Reviving the Debates on Christ and Culture in Contemporary Protestantism  Introduction  The WCC and the Rethinking of Gospel and Culture  Rethinking the Role of the Cultural in the Christian Faith    Christianity and Culture, A Fluid Relationship: Tanner and Gallagher    The Wholly Otherness of the Sacred and the Secular: Metzger    Culture and the Long Revolution: Gorringe    Beyond Christ and Culture? A Postcolonial Proposal: Rieger  Conclusion 7 Inculturation, the Catholic Church and the Cultures of the World  Introduction  Evangelization and Assimilation  Geopolitical Shifts and the Cultures of the World  The Culturalization of the Church: Evangelization, and Inculturation    Pre-Second Vatican Council    Second Vatican Council    Post Second Vatican Council    The Catholic Church in the Twenty- First Century  Gospel and the Cultural: Theological Implications  Conclusion 8 Understanding the Cultural Pneumatologically  Introduction  Culture as Starting Point and Base for Our Reflection    The Spirit in Culture    The Incarnation, the Spirit, and the Cultural    A Pneumatological Kenosis?    The Cultural and the Building of Ecclesia     The Cultural and the Spirit of Pentecost    Pentecost, Babel and Rejection of Cultural Imperialism    Pentecostal and Cultural Identity as a Pneumatic Gift  The (Inter)Cultural and Divine Revelation  Final Remarks Conclusion Index


Scholars interested in tracing the debates on the relation between theology and culture, contextual, liberation, Latina/o, and pentecostal theologies. Anyone doing related interdisciplinary work and decolonial thinking on these themes.

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