Updated: Aug 25, 2021
It is Paul Tillich who reminds us that theologian is one who has made “an existential decision” to stand on the boundary between commitment and alienation and faith and doubt. That is a space I occupy as a womanist theologian: a deep and abiding belief in my Christian faith; along with plenty of doubts and fears about that same faith. I live in the tension between my commitments to these communities (the local church body and the larger body of believers) even as I’ve gone through seasons of alienation and isolation from those very same communities.
I wrote my latest book, In My Grandmother’s House: Black Women, Faith, and the Stories We Inherit, at the juxtaposition of all those tensions. I was raised by grandparents and elders in a tight-knit Pentecostal community, who taught me to love God with my whole heart, and to love all those around me. But as my grown-up faith matured, I was plagued with questions, and doubts, and unresolved uncertainties I was never allowed to express as a child.
As a scholar and womanist theologian, I fully embrace my doubts and fears, along with my faith and set of beliefs. I live in the beauty of contradictions. The Black religious community which raised me left me a powerful legacy of traditions which sustain me in the darkest hours and has given me the vocabulary to write about soteriology, ecclesiology, and eschatology in ways that are accessible for a broader audience – and also deeply contextual. In a world that despises blackness, I was taught about a God who deliberately created me in God’s own image and likeness. And called my blackness “good.”
Through the elders’ stories and our own, may we all discover a God who is more loving, more freeing, and more tender than we can imagine - a God who holds our hand, like a loving parent and a God who calls us by name, like a loving teacher.
Yolanda Pierce, PhD
Professor & Dean