The Continued Unbridled Turmoil of The Doctrine of Discovery: A Conversation with Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah


By Andy Hale

The Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard pnce wrote:

It is really true what philosophy tells us, that life must be understood backwards. But with this, one forgets the second proposition, that it must be lived forwards. A proposition which, the more it is subjected to careful thought, the more it ends up concluding precisely that life at any given moment cannot really ever be fully understood; exactly because there is no single moment where time stops completely in order for me to take position [to do this]: going backwards. [Journals IV.A.164 (1843)]

Most people have shortened this quote to say, “Life can only be understood backward; but it must be lived forward.”

Often the things we so desperately wish are in our past are really at our forefront. Such a thing exists in the modern implications of the unbridled turmoil of the Doctrine of Discovery.

Invoked in 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued the Papal Bull “Inter Caetera” paving the theological justification of the dominion and conquest by the hands of European Christians in Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the Americas.

“From a theological perspective, the legal and political role of the Doctrine of Discovery is rooted in a dysfunctional theological imagination that shaped the European colonial settler worldview,” said Soong-Chan Rah and Mark Charles on the CBF Podcast.

Soong-Chan is the Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary, while Mark is an activist.

We sat down with the co-authors to discuss their new book, Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery.

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This podcast episode is brought to you by Fuller Seminary, The Center for Congregational Health, and Equal Exchange.

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Andy Hale created and hosts the podcast of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Hale is the senior pastor of University Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following eight years as the founding pastor of Mosaic Church of Clayton and five years as CBF’s church start specialist. Follow on Twitter @haleandy

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