Collective Forgiveness, Racism, and Patriarchy: The Challenge for US White Baptist Congregations

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Erica Whitaker


In his chapter on forgiveness, David Gushee asks, ‘can collective groups forgive?’ The difficulty of collective forgiveness is the focus of this article, which asks, ‘What aspects of collective forgiveness need to be learned by white Baptist congregations in the process of forgiveness for the past sins of slavery?’ The article investigates ecclesial practices and examines the ecclesial challenges needed for the offender in the harmed relationship to practise forgiveness. I first establish why white Baptist churches have not engaged with the notion of collective forgiveness. Second, I propose dismantling soft patriarchy to open the possibility for white churches to become places that can engage in collective forgiveness. In conclusion, I evaluate egalitarian feminism as a way forward for ecclesial communities to practise collective forgiveness. I also offer two first-steps for these Baptist congregations: hiring and electing an equal number of woman in leadership roles and changing theological language.

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Author Biography

Erica Whitaker

Erica Whitaker is a PhD candidate with the International Baptist Theological Study Centre at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and is serving as the Associate Director for the Institute for Black Church Studies at the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky.