Woke Bible Study: does the Bible support colonisation?

Monday 20 May 2024
19:00-20:30 (UK time)

A black child sitting in bed reading a Bible

European colonisation utilised biblical imagery and themes as settlers imagined themselves entering a new Promised Land. How much of this can be substantiated by the Bible? How does this relate to colonialism today?

Colonisation and conquest have been substantiated as “biblical” by some Christians for centuries, based on the stories of Israelites in the Bible taking over Canaan through holy wars after their release from enslavement in Egypt. Additionally, themes from New Testament teachings have been used to validate the idea of setting up exemplary communities that can be beacons of democracy. In this way, the Bible has been used to justify crusades, enslavement, land theft, resource extraction, and genocide.

How much of this can legitimately be based on the Bible? By considering historical information, more holistic interpretation, and attention to the social positions of those writing biblical texts and those interpreting them, we will analyse the validity of biblical interpretations that allow and encourage colonisation.

Additionally, we will consider how Friends related (and continue to relate) to these interpretations. Though Friends resisted the interpretations relating to holy wars and use of violence and enslavement at God’s behest, Friends helped “settle” the Americas and “civilise” Indigenous children through boarding schools. Friends have counselled nonviolence but have not stood in solidarity to stop empires from seizing land and resources from Indigenous and other local populations.

A more accurate — and more challenging, for those in “first-world” situations — interpretation of biblical perspectives will be unpacked and discussed.

This course will involve:

DiscussionSpeakerZoom Session

Accessibility info:

On the booking form, there is a chance for you to let us know about any accessibility or communication adjustments that will enable you to participate more fully in the course. Automated Zoom closed captions are available for all live sessions but if you feel you require more accurate closed captioning please email us directly in addition to booking.

See more courses in this category: Peace & Social Justice

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