Cultural Critics & Prophetic Christian Thought

I have always shunned the role of theologian because I have little interest in systematizing the dogmas and doctrines, insights and intuitions of the Christian tradition. Nor do I think that they can be rendered coherent and consistent. The theological task is a noteworthy endeavor – especially for the life of the church – yet my vocation uses Christian resources, among others, to speak to the multilayered crises of contemporary society and culture. So I am more a cultural critic with philosophic training who works out of the Christian tradition than a theologian who focuses on the systematic coherency or epistemic validity of Christian claims. This vocation puts social theory, historiography, cultural criticism and political engagement at the center of my prophetic Christian outlook. I do not believe that there are such things as Christian social theory, Christian historiography, Christian cultural criticism or Christian politics – just as there are no such things as Christian mathematics, Christian physics or Christian economics. Rather, there is a prophetic Christian thought and practice informed by the best of these disciplines that highlights and enhances the plight of the loveless, luckless, landless, and other victims of social structural arrangements.

(Cornel West, from the Cornel West Reader)

After reading this passage, I find myself thinking that maybe what the Church needs today is fewer theologians and more cultural critics who proclaim prophetic Christian thought and practice.

Cornel West- “You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you won’t serve the people.”

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