Book exposes racist, classist assumptions entangled in individualism known as ‘Bootstrap Theology’

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 6/3/21)—“Taking Apart Bootstrap Theology: Gospel of Generosity and Justice” unites scholarly critique with practical wisdom. The book exposes the racist and classist assumptions entangled in the rugged individualism of what the author calls “Bootstrap Theology.”

Dismantling both the impossible idiom of “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps” and the social theory of Marx’s Protestant Work Ethic, the book challenges the academy and church to advance a more faithful gospel—one that extends a spirit of generosity and a call to social justice for all God’s people, especially those who are most vulnerable.

Examining general historic attitudes and practices of certain religious groups as it relates to interaction with minority cultures, the book details how religious and theological systems have been used to keep certain people groups separate from each other. And it seeks to bridge the divides that exist in our churches along the lines of race, social class and gender in the hopes of helping people more clearly reflect the love of God for all people.

“Terrell Carter’s book ‘Taking Apart Bootstrap Theology: Gospel of Generosity and Justice’ poignantly discusses racism and classism in the United States of America, says Don Thorsen, Ph.D., professor of Theology at Azusa (Calif.) Pacific University. “Carter emphasizes the negative and ill-effects of both [ideas] within all of society. Additionally, Carter targets how a bootstrap theology and a Protestant work ethic reinforce racism and classism through individualism. Carter proposes generosity and justice in God as critical components to dismantle racism and classism.”

Carter, D.Min., is a pastor, professor, administrator in higher education, visual artist and former police officer in St. Louis, Mo. His writings specialize in addressing issues of race and race relations within the church and various communities, police and community relations, organizational leadership and interpersonal communication. In addition to his work in higher education and law enforcement, Carter has been executive director of two nonprofit social service organizations. He is author of multiple books and writes for Word and Way, Faithfully Magazine, and Ethics Daily.

Founded in 1824, Judson Press is a publishing ministry of American Baptist Home Mission Societies, American Baptist Churches USA. It is committed to producing Christ-centered leadership resources for the transformation of individuals, congregations, communities, and cultures. 

American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission  worldwide.