At the Facebook Live Event launch, we heard a clip from Fred Shaw referencing the Doctrine of Discovery; few listeners had ever heard of it.
Imagine you believed it was your destiny to conquer the nations of the world and all the people you encountered there. Such a mindset would change the decisions you made and the actions you took. But it was exactly that sense of purpose and destiny that shaped much of Christian history and the founding of the United States. And it’s still shaping our world. This conquering spirit finds its home in the Doctrine of Discovery. To understand the work of the Unfinished Church, it’s important to understand that idea and how it plays out in the past and in our world today.
The Doctrine of Discovery is deeply rooted in the ambitions of faith. Beginning in the 1400s, and even earlier, church leaders granted explorers, who were “discovering” new lands, the right to “capture, vanquish, and subdue all pagans and other enemies of Christ… and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery”.
That sense of God-ordained manifest destiny is best recognized in the way that European settlers decimated millions of Native people in the Americas. It is entwined with the sins of slavery and can be read behind many of today’s headlines. And, many people never learned about this part of our
As we delve deeper into building Beloved Community, a deeper understanding of the Doctrine of Discovery will enrich the church and the culture we’re striving to build together.
Learn more in this in-depth examination of Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery by the Rev. Neal Christie.