A challenge to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy that calls into question how Christians are taught more about the way of Whiteness than the way of Jesus
Angela Parker wasn’t just trained to be a biblical scholar; she was trained to be a White male biblical scholar.
She is neither White nor male.
Dr. Parker’s experience of being taught to forsake her embodied identity in order to contort herself into the stifling construct of Whiteness is common among American Christians, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. This bookcalls the power structure behind this experience what it is: White supremacist authoritarianism.
Drawing from her perspective as a Womanist New Testament scholar, Dr. Parker describes how she learned to deconstruct one of White Christianity’s most pernicious lies: the conflation of biblical authority with the doctrines of inerrancy and infallibility. As Dr. Parker shows, these doctrines are less about the text of the Bible itself and more about the arbiters of its interpretation—historically, White males in positions of power who have used Scripture to justify control over marginalized groups.
This oppressive use of the Bible has been suffocating. To learn to breathe again, Dr. Parker says, we must “let God breathe in us.” We must read the Bible as authoritative, but not authoritarian. We must become conscious of the particularity of our identities, as we also become conscious of the particular identities of the biblical authors from whom we draw inspiration. And we must trust and remember that as long as God still breathes, we can too.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Lisa Sharon Harper Introduction: What Is Your Relationship to the Bible? 1. Stifled Breathing: Trained to Be a White Male Biblical Scholar 2. White Supremacist Authoritarianism Is Not God’s Breath 3. Stop Gaslighting Me 4. Moving from Stifled Breath to Full-Throated Faith Conclusion: Breathing Womanist Air
Angela N. Parker is assistant professor of New Testament and Greek at Mercer University's McAfee School of Theology. In 2018, Dr. Parker received the? Journal for Feminist Studies in Religion's?ESF New Scholar Award for her article "One Womanist's View of Racial Reconciliation in Galatians." In her research, Dr. Parker merges Womanist thought and postcolonial theory while reading biblical texts with real lived experiences of actual bodies.?
“What does it mean to follow Jesus when we strip Whiteness and westernness from his skin and the Brown colonized context from which he rose? What happens when those at the bottom read the words of those at the bottom? What suppressed, covered over, hidden, and obliterated meanings rise again? That is the project of the next five hundred years. Angela Parker’s If God Still Breathes takes us one step further on the journey.” — Lisa Sharon Harper from the foreword
“I’ve been waiting for this book! If God Still Breathes, Why Can’t I? brings a fresh perspective to the biblical text that makes it come alive with hope of liberation for all people. Dr. Angela Parker calls us past the superficial into a deep engagement with a contextual theology that is relevant and life-giving. We must rethink how to address the racial and social injustices taking place in the world today, and I am convinced that the way forward is womanist! So if you want to become brave enough to move from being a concerned bystander to an active participant—this book is for you! I highly recommend it.” — Brenda Salter McNeil author of Becoming Brave: Finding the Courage to Pursue Racial Justice Now
“Dr. Parker understands the power of testimony to speak truth. This book marks a path away from death-dealing forms of scholarly formation in evangelical biblical studies and toward thriving life in a field and for a field. Parker’s powerful text adds greatly to a growing number of theologically rich antiracist and antisexist resources for addressing our current struggles. Now we have yet another weapon of righteousness.” — Willie James Jennings author of After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging
“This book invites readers to embrace justice and Black Lives Matter by taking them on a journey of personal re-membering and critical reflection toward a womanist consciousness. Dr. Parker employs the metaphorical language of God-breath (inspired scriptures) and breathing (liberating interpretation that embraces all bodies and blackness) unobstructed by the suffocating, breath-taking authoritarian claims of whiteness-centered biblical scholarship buttressed by doctrinal claims of inerrancy and infallibility.” — Mitzi J. Smith author of Womanist Sass and Talk Back: (In)Justice, Intersectionality, and Biblical Interpretation
“What might the church be like if we were a people who walked with each other so well that we all ‘made it home’? In this spirit (ruach)–filled book, Dr. Angela Parker calls with courage for us to release the white supremacist authoritarianism of inerrancy and infallibility. She invites with vision for us to journey into a living relationship with the Bible, one in which we need not—and, in fact, must not—leave our embodied experiences and identities behind. This book offers womanist air, as vital as it is ‘God-breathed.’” — Jennifer Harvey author of Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation
“If God Still Breathes, Why Can’t I? is not only an invitation to examine how we are conditioned to read Scripture; it is also a thought-provoking intervention in which Parker reveals the often invisible yet insidious ways biblical inerrancy and infallibility uphold white supremacist authoritarianism. At the same time, Parker challenges us to reimagine a liberated world, one in which we create community, walk with one another, and learn to live into the tension that accompanies diversity. If God Still Breathes, Why Can’t I? is indeed a breath of fresh air from which all readers of Scripture will benefit.” — Jennifer T. Kaalund associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
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