Historically, many churches and theologians defended and supported race-based slavery and subsequent forms of racial hierarchy and violence. The essays in Reparations and the Theological Disciplines argue that it is urgent that the theological disciplines engage the issue of reparations by revisiting Scripture and our theological traditions. The time is now for remembrance, reckoning, and repair.
Michael Barram is professor of theology and religious studies at Saint Mary’s College of California.
Drew G. I. Hart is associate professor of theology at Messiah University and program director of Thriving Together Congregations for Racial Justice.
Gimbiya Kettering is a writer and workshop leader whose work focuses on the intersections of race, religion, and political policy.
Michael J. Rhodes is lecturer in Old Testament at Carey Baptist College.
Introduction: Toolbox for a Journey of Remembrance, Reckoning, and Repair. Michael Barram, Drew G. I. Hart, Gimbiya Kettering, and Michael J. Rhodes
Part One: Reparations and the Bible
Chapter One: Reparations in Exodus, Matthew Schlimm
Chapter Two: Bypassing the Bible: Why Exodus 21 and Deuteronomy 15 Did Not Influence and Have Not Influenced Reparations Proposals, Stacy Davis
Chapter Three: Witness: The Job: How to Talk to White People About Reparations, Gimbiya Kettering
Chapter Four: From Here to Jubilee: Reading Torah in Dialogue with Darity and Mullen’s Case for Reparations, Michael J. Rhodes
Chapter Five: Reparational Reasoning: The Biblical Jubilee as Moral Formation for a More Just Future, Michael Barram
Chapter Six: Witness: Zacchaeus and the Call to Repair: A Sermon on Luke 19:1-10, Duke L. Kwon
Chapter Seven: You Cannot Pay Back What You Have Never Owned: A Conversation on Reparations and Paul’s Letter to Philemon, Angela N. Parker
Chapter Eight: Philemon as a Plea for Reparations Then and Now, Michael J. Gorman
Part Two: Reparations and Christian Theology
Chapter Nine: The Reparational God, Mark Labberton
Chapter Ten: Myth, Belonging, and Reparative Ethics: A Theological and Pedagogical Account, Drew G. I. Hart
Chapter Eleven: “Don’t Make Me Feel Guilty”: Why Penal Substitution Interferes with Reparations and Reconciliation, Mako A. Nagasawa
Chapter Twelve: Witness: Reparations or Atonement: Searching for an Appropriate Vessel, Rodney S. Sadler Jr.
Chapter Thirteen: Reparations NOW: For The Glory of God, Ekemini Uwan
Chapter Fourteen: Catholic Social Thought and Reparations, Christina McRorie
Part Three: Reparations in History and Contemporary Praxis
Chapter Fifteen: The DC Compensated Emancipation Act as Precedent for Reparations, Renee K. Harrison
Chapter Sixteen: Reparation as Reckoning, Malcolm Foley
Chapter Seventeen: Witness: The Call for Truth and Reparations in Minnesota, Jim Bear Jacobs, Pamela R. Ngunjiri, and Curtiss Paul DeYoung
Chapter Eighteen: “Bear Fruits Worthy of Repentance”: A Black Administrator’s Perspective on the Challenge and Promise of the Virginia Theological Seminary Reparations Program, Joseph Downing Thompson Jr.
Conclusion, Drew G. I. Hart
About the Contributors
What makes reparations for entrenched inequity so urgent in our society is that it is the place where the hard question of economics and the hard questions of race converge. It is abundantly clear that nothing less than reparations are required for our society to move toward peaceable, generative wellbeing. For this reason, this book is both welcome and urgent. It is welcome because it mobilizes in a most compelling way the inescapable evidence in our deepest theological tradition on behalf of reparations. It is urgent because the church, for the sake of the body politic, must be awakened to the requirements and possibilities latent in our tradition. The book makes it possible that the issue of reparations can be seriously and honestly taken up in local communities that are willing to engage the resources of our shared faith. These several writers pull no punches about the truth-telling that the tradition requires. We may hope for a broad, deep engagement with the sharp-edge insistence of this rich study.
Here is practical theological inquiry at its best: an urgent topic addressed from diverse perspectives with a rigor that can be trusted. Building on a broad and firm exegetical base, with an eye to the particularities of historical and contemporary contexts, this strong group of scholars creates a multi-faceted framework for new social and economic models expressing sincere Christian commitment to repentance and remembrance.
This is a remarkable book of remarkable essays written by an equally remarkable set of contributors. While they don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, the authors are univocal that in response to the question of reparations, the answer is “yes” and “now.” The collection is at once thorough, poignant, and profound, and will leave readers both somber and motivated—with a kind of adrenalized sadness—to remember, reckon with, and repair. Those who know Scripture will recall Israel’s four-hundred year enslavement in Egypt, a duration that echoes all-too eerily with the history of American slavery. They will also remember that Scripture repeatedly commands God’s people to never forget that time. Let those with ears to hear, listen to the what the Spirit is saying to the churches.