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Westhelle offers new analysis of what it means to be church in a post-colonial world in After Heresy: Colonial Practices and Post-Colonial Theologies

Posted Mar 10, 2010

Vitor Westhelle, professor of systematic theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, has published After Heresy: Colonial Practices and Post-Colonial Theologies (Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf and Stock publishers). The book, which comes shortly after the release of The Church Event: Call and Challenge of a Church Protestant (Fortress Press, October 2009), is being heralded as an important new contribution to post-colonial theological studies.

“Besides cogently demonstrating that the transaction between the colonizer and the colonized is not one-sided, an attractive feature is the author's attempt to redefine the traditional Christian teachings on sin, evil, church, and eschatology from a post-colonial perspective,” said R. S. Sugirtharajah, professor of biblical hermeneutics at the University of Birmingham and author of The Bible and Empire: Postcolonial Explorations. David Rhoads, professor of New Testament, notes that the book “unmasks the colonial beast and brings startling clarity to post-colonial movements,” and Kwok Pui-Lan, author of Postcolonial imagination and Feminist Theology, hails it as lifting up subaltern voices and offering resources in doing postcolonial theology. 

Westhelle divides the book into three parts where he first examines the colonial practice of the “missionary enterprise,” and then presents the crisis of Western modernity interpreted by insiders and outsiders of the modern project. Westhelle concludes with an analysis of post-colonial practices that are theologically grounded even when used in discourses that are not religious. The book explores whether there is a post-colonial understanding of sin and evil, and ways to understand eschatology in post-colonial terms, and what it means to be church in a post-colonial world.

After Heresy: Colonial Practices and Post-Colonial Theologies (ISBN 978-1-60608-088-7) is available from the publisher at .

Westhelle joined LSTC’s faculty in 1993 after teaching at Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary and Escola Superior de Teologia, Brazil. He was visiting professor at the University of Natal, South Africa, and the University of Aarhus, Denmark. He is a prolific writer and speaker with an international reputation. In addition to the twelve books which he wrote or co-edited, he has published more than 140 articles. His 2006 book, The Scandalous God: The Use and Abuse of the Cross, published by Fortress Press, has been turned into a SELECT course and been studied across the church by lay people, clergy, and scholars.


Cheryl Hoth
Assistant to the Academic Dean


Jan Boden
Director of Communications

The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago forms visionary leaders to bear witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Its approximately 290 students come from all parts of the United States and from around the world to study in the masters level and advanced studies programs. Graduates become pastors, other church leaders, and university and seminary professors. LSTC is a seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a member of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools, allowing students to cross-register among the 12 member seminaries and drawing on a wealth of ecumenical resources. LSTC enjoys a number of cooperative arrangements with the University of Chicago.

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