The Religion & Culture Web Forum
"Black Theology: The Notion of Culture Revisited"
by Dwight N. Hopkins (University of Chicago)
This month, Professor Dwight Hopkins of the University of Chicago Divinity School discusses the relationship between culture and theology. Laying out parameters for the discussion of culture, he argues for the particular importance of such a discussion to black theology.
In this presentation, looking at the framework of human labor, the artistic, and spirituality, we [advance] the position that the notion of culture must be taken seriously due to its fundamental presuppositional status in the varieties of black theology in South Africa and the United States, as well as in other global regions….[Culture relates] to an ultimate vision or concern upon which matters of life and death are decided. A qualitative vision or concern transcends the individual self or communal selves, consequently the spiritual trait appears. And culture is not pristine, neutral, romantic, or statically given. It operates in a flow that is animated by the spirit (for Christians, God's spirit) in contention with adverse spirits (i.e., that which harms life and systematizes a monopolization of God's creation by one group).
Culture is where the sacred reveals itself. As a result, one only knows what she or he is created to be and called to do through the human-created realm of culture. On our own, we are limited to this realm. If we could enter the divine realm by using human efforts, there would be no need for the divine; indeed, such a human capability would restrict divine power to ultimately determine the definition of what it means to be a full human being. Because humans cannot create the divine realm, the ultimate vision or the divine spirit must impinge upon and enter the human condition.
Early in January, an invited response to Professor Hopkins's essay will be offered by James A. Noel of the San Francisco Theological Seminary. Invited responses may be found in the archived discussion board for this Forum (pdf).
If you would like to receive a notification about new content on the web forum, please subscribe to our mailing list.