Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery


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$20.00  $18.60
Publish Date
5.9 X 8.9 X 0.7 inches | 0.7 pounds

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About the Author

Soong-Chan Rah (ThD, Duke Divinity School) is Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. He and his family live in Chicago. His books include The Next Evangelicalism and Prophetic Lament.

Mark Charles, a man of Navajo and Dutch American descent, is a speaker, writer, and consultant on the complexities of American history, race, culture, and faith. He is the author of the blog Reflections from the Hogan and was the Washington, DC, correspondent and columnist for Native News Online. He has served on the boards of the Christian Community Development Association and the Christian Reformed Church of North America. He and his family live in Washington, DC.


"With thorough research, Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah share the foundational truths of American history and theologies that have influenced us for over five hundred years, correcting the purposefully hidden erasure of what actually happened on this land and why it continues to this day. Unsettling Truths is a righteous and integral narrative that must be heard and absorbed if we are to move forward with any sense of national dignity and morality. Rah and Charles are courageous in this scholarly telling of these historical truths; the question is, Are we courageous enough to listen?"

--Randy Woodley, Distinguished Professor of Faith and Culture at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, author of Shalom and the Community of Creation

"Unsettling Truths is a must-read for all Christians and should become a staple of seminary education. There is virtually no other book targeted toward a biblically centered audience that explains the theological significance of the doctrine of discovery and its legal progeny for not only Native peoples but for Christian settlers. In addition, there are virtually no books that so adeptly analyze the relationship between settler colonialism and indigenous genocide with the history of racialization of other people of color in the United States. Through their masterful and extended analysis of the ideological and legal foundations of the United States, these authors force to us to wrestle the unsettling truths of the foundations of US democracy. As the same time, they provide us the resources to imagine biblically based possibilities for new forms of collectivity and governance beyond settler colonialism. This book provides not only critically needed information about the generally misunderstood political and legal status of Native nations, it provides a paradigm-shifting approach for how to understand the United States (and other settler nations) from a biblical perspective."

--Andrea Smith, cofounder of Evangelicals 4 Justice and board member of the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies

"In this era of racial tension in the United States, Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah offer a corrective lens that brings into sharp focus the seed of Euro-American exceptionalism along with its enduring effects through history up to this present day. Unsettling Truths examines the racially charged yet unrecognized theology that unleashed the slave trade in West Africa and the dispossession of indigenous peoples' lands in North America: the Doctrine of Discovery. The United States' two original sins find their roots here, and the racial tensions that grow from them continue to overrun the American cultural landscape. These Unsettling Truths lead us to self-examination and offer hope for conciliation. This is the true American story."

--Gene L. Green, professor emeritus of New Testament, Wheaton College and Graduate School

"Followers of Jesus say, Amen! to the emancipatory call of John 8:32. He is Truth, and the truth sets us free. Yet even as we go on to affirm, 'All truth is the Creator's truth, ' we recognize we are not immediately emancipated by all truth. Sometimes truth is at first inconvenient, even outright offensive. That's why this narrative will trouble you--because while it is true, it chronicles the great lie that America, Canada, and other colonial nations arose ex nihilo from the land. Once embraced, however, this truth can reset your relationships in the land, creating a trajectory toward authentic freedom in Christ."

--Terry LeBlanc, director of NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community where he teaches theology and community development

"In Chicana/o Studies, many reject Christianity because of the unsettling truth that white racial nationalism has historically infected the American Church and perverted the biblical message of Jesus Christ. Drawing from a unique indigenous perspective, Charles and Rah persuasively trace the historical roots of such nationalism to the Doctrine of Discovery and settler colonialism, and call the church to lament and conciliation. Unsettling Truths tears down a stronghold that has held the American church in captivity for four centuries."

--Robert Chao Romero, associate professor, UCLA César E. Chávez department of Chicana/o studies

"Reading Unsettling Truths hit me between the eyes. It's a worldview changer. Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah powerfully take us deep into the impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery on the 'new' world and on our faulty understandings of Christianity. I needed to read this book."

--Michael O. Emerson, author of Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America

"This sobering critique presents a disturbing yet welcome analysis of how the Doctrine of Discovery has split American church and society along racial lines, and makes a powerful argument for engaging in national dialogue around issues of class, gender, and race."

--Publishers Weekly, October 14, 2019