Book Review: Coming Together in the Twenty-First Century By Curtiss Paul DeYoung (Judson Press, 2009) -- By: Mae Elise Cannon
Book Review: Coming Together in the Twenty-First Century
By Curtiss Paul DeYoung (Judson Press, 2009)
Mae Elise Cannon is a doctoral student of American history at University of California, Davis, studying the historic involvement of United States Christians in Israel and Palestine. She is the author of Social Justice Handbook: Small Steps for a Better World (IVP, 2009).
In Coming Together in the Twenty-First Century: The Bible’s Message in an Age of Diversity, Curtiss Paul DeYoung writes a foundational work about the necessity of diversity in developing a holistic Christian theology of community. This book reengages questions introduced in the first publication of Coming Together more than a decade ago. DeYoung uses the Scriptures as a tool of liberation while highlighting historic ways they have been used oppressively as tools of Western thought and colonialism. His writing responds to contextual changes in the United States from the election of the first African American president to the growing challenges of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiments since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. DeYoung does not write from a place of discouragement or despair, but, rather, identifies the twenty-first century as an age of hope for authentic reconciliation. He reminds his readers of our need to be set free from narrow and sometimes oppressive ways of interpreting the Scriptures and to be challenged to embrace a multicultural approach to understanding the core message of the gospel.
Throughout Coming Together, readers are given the opportunity to glean insights from Christian history, theological reflection from different racial and ethnic voices, and DeYoung’s prescriptive responses to their reflections. DeYoung highlights the intertwined nature of justice and addresses the negative effects of Western colonialism and the suppression of culture and diversity. He emphasizes that the Bible and Christian faith are about liberation and empowerment. Thus, the interpretation and application of Christian faith must not be void of understanding both the saving power of Christ and the necessity of directly confronting unjust social systems such as sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression. For DeYoung, Christians must be rescued from the world of a white Jesus with blond hair and blue eyes and learn to understand Jesus from his own cultural identity, as an Afro- Asiatic Jew. DeYoung writes:
A truth-telling Christ would be honest about the history of systems based on theories of white superiority… . The system has been called by different names—colonialism, slavery, apartheid, segregation, genocide, racism—regardless of what it is called, it has the same effect. A white Jesus would honestly admit that institutional forms of Christi...
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