Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Coming Full Circle: Constructing Native Christian Theology

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Coming Full Circle: Constructing Native Christian Theology

Article excerpt

Coming Full Circle: Constructing Native Christian Theology. Edited by Steven Charleston and Elaine A. Robinson. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2015. xvii + 218 pp. $39.00 (paper).

Coming Full Circle was conceptualized by Elaine Robinson, Academic Dean at Saint Paul School of Theology in Oklahoma City, and Steven Charleston, who at the time was a visiting professor there. The seminary locates itself within the Wesleyan tradition and the holiness movement based on the Deuteronomic command echoed in the Gospels of Mark and Luke to love God with all ones heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love ones neighbor as oneself.

Coming Full Circle was published by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) through Fortress Press, Augsburg Fortress's imprint for academic titles. The eight essays in this anthology include contributions from authors with a range of perspectives, including the Indian Missionary Conference of the United Methodist Church, Native American Episcopal priests (including one bishop), and the Director of Native American Studies at the University of Georgia. These essays are bookended with contributions by Charleston: "Articulating Native American Theological Theory" and a concluding chapter on "Theological Anthropology" in which he interviews Ada Deer, an American politician, on her childhood, Native identity, and her fight for Menominee restoration following the Congressional decision to terminate the Menominee people of Wisconsin.

In his piece in Coming Full Circle, Martin Brokenleg reflects that his Lakota Christian identity was shaped more by family and First Nations than by the institutional church (p. 137). Carol Gallagher, another contributor to the volume, observes that "despite the misunderstanding and hegemony of many well-meaning missionaries, the gospel became a part of our story, woven into the ancient fabric of our lives and traditions" (p. 83). These perspectives, controversial in postcolonial contexts, nevertheless appear to reflect not-insignificant sectors of living reality. The titular concept for the volume, coming full circle, is drawn from Charleston's first chapter, in which he discusses coming "full circle" as he is discovering new dimensions of Christian thought through his research on Native theory. David Wilson's chapter describes the history and experience in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC), a Methodist organization in which 95 percent of clergy and lay leadership is indigenous. In his essay in the volume, Thom White Wolf Fassett notes that the church's desire for reconciliation and restoration has put it in a place of self-examination and reflection and thus in a place, if it is willing to turn and return to God and Native peoples, to receive a new heart and a new spirit. …

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