You cannot discover lands already inhabited.
Injustice has plagued American society for centuries. And we cannot move toward being a more just nation without understanding the root causes that have shaped our culture and institutions.
In this prophetic blend of history, theology, and cultural commentary, Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah reveal the far-reaching, damaging effects of the “Doctrine of Discovery.”
In the fifteenth century, official church edicts gave Christian explorers the right to claim territories they “discovered.” This was institutionalized as an implicit national framework that justifies American triumphalism, white supremacy, and ongoing injustices. The result is that the dominant culture idealizes a history of discovery, opportunity, expansion, and equality, while minority communities have been traumatized by colonization, slavery, segregation, and dehumanization.
Healing begins when deeply entrenched beliefs are unsettled. Charles and Rah aim to recover a common memory and shared understanding of where we have been and where we are going. As other nations have instituted truth and reconciliation commissions, so do the authors call our nation and churches to a truth-telling that will expose past injustices and open the door to conciliation and true community.
Mark Charles, a man of Navajo and Dutch American descent, is a speaker, writer, and consultant on the complexities of American history, race, culture, and faith. He is the author of the blog “Reflections from the Hogan” and was the Washington, DC, correspondent and columnist for Native News Online. He has served on the boards of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) and the Christian Reformed Church of North America. He and his family live in Washington, DC.
Soong-Chan Rah (ThD, Duke Divinity School) is a Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of Prophetic Lament, The Next Evangelicalism, and Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church, as well as coauthor of Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith and contributing author for Growing Healthy Asian American Churches.
In addition to serving as founding senior pastor of the multiethnic, urban ministry-focused Cambridge Community Fellowship Church (CCFC), Rah has been an active member of the Boston TenPoint Coalition (an urban ministry working with at-risk youth) and is a founding member of the Boston Fellowship of Asian-American Ministers. He and his wife, Sue, have two children and live in Chicago.
Look for Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery by Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah in November 2019. Visit www.ivpress.com/unsettling-truths.