The following post is very important for this series. This is our fifth post in the series on Race: A Theological Account. This post is by my colleague and good friend, Boaz Johnson. He covers chp 2 and shows that at the heart of intertwining race and theology is the work of Immanuel Kant. What you will find below should make you shudder at times — what you find will also explain in part how theology has become implicated in racism.
This development necessitated the divorce of Christian theology from its biblical and Jewish roots. How so? In order to stress the relationship between the two, Carter begins with a quote from Immanuel Kant’s Religion and Rational Theology and we must listen to this rhetoric carefully:
In the rest of the chapter, Carter succinctly shows how modern European Christian theology has in fact carried out Kant’s thesis to its logical conclusion, leading eventually to the holocaust. The Judenfrage becomes the Rassenfrage, in which the white race replaces the Jewish “race,” and Jesus the Jewish Messiah is replaced by the white non-Jewish Jesus.
Carter shows this process in three sections:
1. Kant and the drama of race.
3. Kant and the drama of religion.
Carter discusses Kant’s influence on European conception of “race.” In a 1775-1777 essay “Of the Different Human Races,” Kant suggested that the white race is humanity on its way to perfection. He divided human begins into four races:
the Negro race, who can be educated, but only to be slaves;
the Hindus, can be trained, but only in the arts, and they will never make any progress;
the Hun (Mongol and Kalmuck) race, which cannot be educated;
the white race, in contrast to these, supersedes all racial deficiencies.
The white race is the only one capable of advancement. It is a race which transcends race “because of its developmental progress toward perfection.”
In the 1780s Kant’s understanding of racial distinction and the supremacy of the white race finds its way into his proposals in anthropology and politics. Kant considered the white race to consist of the French, English, Spanish, Italian and German. However of these, the Germans were the most centered and the paradigm of Aufklarung humanity. He further suggests that in his book Anthropology and the course he taught in the 1780s, Kant sees all the negative characteristics of the non-white people focused in Judentum (Judaism). Kant suggests that the Jews refuse to submit to rules governing modern white civil society. They are a heteronymous people, whose sensuous and cheating nature arises from their religion. Therefore, in order for Jews to enter into the body politics of the German/Prussian people, they had to be civilly improved, and cleansed from the influence which their religion has on them.
Christ, in Kant’s works, especially, Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason (1793), is developed as a racial-moral figure of the Occident, who overcomes the Jewish Orient. Kant’s Christ overthrows Judaism, and inaugurates a rational Christianity which is completely separated from sensuous Judaism. The God of the Old Testament, according to Kant, is not the God of reason. “The God of the Old Testament “is an earthly regent making absolutely no claims upon, and no appeals to conscience.” This, according to Kant, becomes clear in much of the Old Testament, especially the Old Testament Law.
Carter goes on to argue, that at the heart of Kant’s progression of thought is the idea that he wants to free Christian thought of “slavish mind” of the Jewish race, which is contained in the “evil principle” of the Old Testament Law. In the process, he presents Jesus, not in continuity with Jewish Old Testament thought, but rather with the Greek philosophers. Jesus is not Jewish. Jesus is Greek. Jesus is modern. Jesus is Aufklarung. Jesus is white. The Enlightenment Jesus, claims Kant, must emerge out of the Euthanasia of Judaism. Out of this will emerge the “pure moral religion-” i.e. the white religion.
What do you say?