African American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Biblical Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Religion
Historical inquiry of the sort that seeks, in its different but necessarily naive ways, merely to "establish the facts," or merely to "defend the race," or "my people," or "my religion/denomination," or "our position," simply to accuse the other as source of current problems, needs to be identified for what it is and renounced. Such "history" is problematic, not so much because it has no insights or tells no truths, but because it cannot generally even adequately, or critically, problematize the "facts" and "truths" it discovers and engages. Put another way, this type of history seems unable to address the complexities--the diversification, the shifts, the multidirectional movements, the contradictions, the layers and layerings, the overlappings--that characterize life experience past and present. More often than not, such history is viewed by all but zealous insiders as more of the unfortunate polemics to be responded to in kind. It does not take exceptional powers of discernment to recognize that in our times as a truly vicious cycle of offensive and defensive polemics regarding religious life, often with the Bible playing a most prominent role, is evident. Clearly, the polemics do not involve all or even a great majority of individuals and groups, but it takes only a few particularly shrill, well-placed contenders on each side to make a phenomenon.
© 1997 Judson Press
Wimbush, Vincent L. “Past as Present, Present as Past: Freedom to Read the Self and the World,” in Baptists in the Balance: The Tension Between Freedom and Responsibility, ed. Everett C. Goodwin (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1997).