The Ongoing Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery


10AM – 1PM PST, 12PM – 3PM CST 1PM – 4PM EST 

This class is a prophetic blend of history, theology, and cultural commentary, Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah reveal the far-reaching, damaging effects of the “Doctrine of Discovery.” In the fifteenth century, official church edicts gave Christian explorers the right to claim territories they “discovered.” This was institutionalized as an implicit national framework that justifies American triumphalism, white supremacy, and ongoing injustices. The result is that the dominant culture idealizes a history of discovery, opportunity, expansion, and equality, while minority communities have been traumatized by colonization, slavery, segregation, and dehumanization. Healing begins when deeply entrenched beliefs are unsettled. Charles and Rah aim to recover a common memory and shared understanding of where we have been and where we are going.

Text – Unsettling Truths



Mark R. Charles Mark Charles is a dynamic and thought-provoking public speaker, writer, and consultant. The son of an American woman (of Dutch heritage) and a Navajo man, he teaches with insight into the complexities of American history regarding race, culture, and faith in order to help forge a path of healing and conciliation for the nation. He is one of the leading authorities on the 15th-century’s Doctrine of Discovery and its influence on US history and its intersection with modern-day society. 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 (CCDA) and the Christian Reformed Church of North America. He and his family live in Washington, DC.

Soong-Chan Rah is the Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including The Next Evangelicalism (IVP Books), Many Colors(Moody) and Prophetic Lament (IVP Books). Dr. Rah received his M.Div. and D.Min from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, his ThM from Harvard University and his ThD from Duke University.

Rah is formerly the founding Senior Pastor of the Cambridge Community Fellowship Church (CCFC), a multi-ethnic, urban ministry-focused church committed to living out the values of racial reconciliation and social justice in the urban context. He has served on the boards of World Vision, Sojourners, and the Christian Community Development Association.


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