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date: 26 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article traces the history of the modern concept of race and various theological responses, thus making a modest contribution to theological anthropology. It assumes that modern racial ideology and racism emerged from the contexts of European and American global dominance between the sixteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. Premodern forms of ethnocentrism are qualitatively different from the modern ideology of race. This article first examines how twentieth-century trends in the study of race have shifted away from natural sciences and toward a social constructionist definition of race. Pietism, the evangelical awakenings, Enlightenment philosophy, and the Social Gospel would later be associated with the abolitionist and civil rights movements. In all these cases, theologians were challenged to incorporate human experience and ethical critique into their theological methodology. Those who did so were more responsive to modern racial ideologies and racist practices. This article also considers Catholic missionaries and the Iberian empires, along with abolitionism and humanism.

Keywords: Enlightenment, race, racism, abolitionism, humanism, missionaries, social constructionism, theological anthropology, evangelical awakenings, racial ideology

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