In early 2021, I quite unintentionally began a deep-dive in reading Indigenous writers. Around the same time, a good friend and I started talking about the 94 Calls to Action from the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and how slow our government seemed to be in enacting them. Part of the refrain in all of these books and documents was that most of the work of Reconciliation is for settler communities, government, and institutions to do — that while any path forward must be undertaken with full involvement of Indigenous peoples as genuine partners in whatever comes next, before that can happen, we as settlers have a lot of work to do in educating ourselves, in telling more accurate versions of our history, and questioning the dominant narratives about European settlement that continue to shape policy and attitudes to this day.
The purpose of this series is to engage with just this process in an area — the history of Christian thought — I am qualified to address. This is a necessary part of the process because Christian theology — bad theology, but theology nonetheless — was used to prop up and justify the European colonial endeavour. The stories the Church told played a direct role in what has happened over the past 500 years on this continent and around the world. And so, the first step among many for us Christians who are part of white Canadian (or American or Australian or South African, etc.) culture, is to dismantle settler theology: to set our stories straight.
After an introduction and a discussion of my own history as a settler in Canada, I looked at the origins and the impact of following narratives, and critiqued them from within Christianity’s own teachings:
- The Doctrine of Discovery
- A Chosen People
- The Myth of Christendom
- Dominion over the Earth
- Everywhere and Nowhere (on the lack of a theology of place in Christianity)
- The Myth of Progress
The series ends with a summary of the theological affirmations the series explored to counter these narratives, and a tentative proposal for a way forward for Christianity in Canada.
Please also see the bibliography and reading list for the series.