Infected Christianity

Infected Christianity: A Study of Modern Racism

ALAN DAVIES
Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 176
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt80fx5
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  • Book Info
    Infected Christianity
    Book Description:

    As Germany played a pivotal role in recent developments of racism, Davies discusses the Germanic Christ first and most extensively. He analyzes French Roman-Catholic racism, particularly its role in the Third Republic, through discussion of the "Latin" Christ. His study of the Anglo-Saxon Christ covers both English and American expressions of racism and their links to imperialism. This is followed by a discussion of Afrikaner racism, and an exploration of black nationalism in the United States and its advocacy of a black Christ. Davies concludes with a discussion of the theological problems arising from the five racial Christs surveyed and the dilemmas posed by the attempt to cast a universal religion in a particular cultural mould.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6166-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. CHAPTER ONE From Racial Ethnocentrism to Racism: Some Historical Reflections
    (pp. 3-26)

    Although racism itself is a fairly recent phenomenon in Western history, its roots are ancient and varied. Its basic root, however, is ethnocentrism, a modern term which means the universal instinct to identify humankind with the members of one’s own tribe, community, or nation, and to regard outsiders as less than fully human, although this designation need not be explicit.¹ So deeply embedded in human nature is the ethnocentric impulse that among preliterate peoples tribal names are invariably synonyms for “humans” or “humanity.”² Even with the dawn of civilization and the advent of a more sophisticated awareness, ethnocentrism failed to...

  5. CHAPTER TWO The Germanic Christ
    (pp. 27-54)

    It is ironic that a Roman republican of the first century, who was far more interested in the Romans than in the Germans and only wished to remind the former of their lost virtues by praising the tribesmen of the Rhineland frontier, should have become thede factogodparent of German racism. Even prior to the rediscovery of Tacitus and hisGermaniaby German humanists during the Renaissance, however, a German ethnocentrism with racial overtones was beginning to brew. Through a peculiar manuscript entitledThe Book of a Hundred Chapters, a racial mythology based on the rejection of the Old...

  6. CHAPTER THREE The Latin Christ
    (pp. 55-72)

    Although he can hardly be blamed, Tacitus was the godparent of French as well as German racism. The Roman historian’s “bizarre conception” of the Germans as a people “smitten with liberty, austere, sober, moral, but courageous and warlike” was introduced into French political literature by Francis Hotman, a great Calvinist critic of royal tyranny during the late sixteenth century.¹ No more a racist than Tacitus, Hotman only wished to defend the libertarian foundations of the French political system against the encroachments of an absolutistic monarchy obsessed with the “divine right of kings.” Hence he contended in hisFranco-Gallia(1573) that...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR The Anglo-Saxon Christ
    (pp. 73-88)

    Tacitus was also the progenitor of Anglo-Saxon racism, at least as far as its core assumptions are concerned. The Germanic myth was drawn into the social and political conflicts of the English civil war era by seventeenth-century writers who, somewhat fancifully, interpreted the war in racial as well as in class terms.¹ According to these sectarians, England (like France) consisted of two nations, Normans and Saxons, and the contest between king and parliament pitted these two races against each other in mortal combat. Charles I was seen as no less a “Norman” intruder than his eleventh-century ancestor William I, and...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE The Afrikaner Christ
    (pp. 89-104)

    While there are obvious differences between German and South African history, as well as between Lutheran and Calvinist Protestantism, there are also several striking parallels that help explain why racism captured so many theological and political hostages in both nations. First, the patterns of sacred history (or civil religion) have been much the same in both countries: the holy nation or chosen people, defeated by its pagan enemies, dreamt of vindication at the hands of God through the overthrow of the existing situation – in the case of Germany, the Weimar Republic, in the case of South Africa, the British...

  9. CHAPTER SIX The Black Christ
    (pp. 105-116)

    History contains many strange corridors. As a young man, W. E. B. Du Bois, the most scholarly figure and gifted writer in the black nationalist movement in the United States, studied briefly in Berlin under the nationalistic German historian Heinrich von Treitschke, who, like all German nationalists, drew much of his inspiration from Fichte and his contemporaries.¹ To the extent that the youthful Du Bois was influenced by Treitschke, therefore, it is possible to claim that the remote shadow of Fichte, and, through him, the even more remote shadow of Tacitus, cast their length as far as the ghettos of...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusion
    (pp. 117-124)

    In his great book of thirty-five years ago, H. Richard Niebuhr defined the “Christ of Culture” as one of the five solutions to the enduring problem of the relationship between Christianity and culture.¹ Throughout the whole of Christian history, he argued, certain Christians have instinctively sought to harmonize the central figure of their faith with the cultural world in which they lived, resulting, inevitably, in an attempt to excise “stubbornly discordant features” from the New Testament.² The various Christs described in the preceding pages of this study are examples of this tendency. Since, however, both nationalism and racism, the twin...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 125-154)
  12. Index
    (pp. 155-160)