Revisiting Caribbean Theological Tradition: 20 Haitian Theologians and Biblical Scholars You Should Know

by | Dec 15, 2023 | Women in Ministry, World Christianity

By Celucien L. Joseph, PhD

Series Editor: Graham Joseph Hill

General Introduction

The Caribbean is the home of many cultures and inherits various traditions, chiefly Native American, African, European, and Asian. The Region is populated by a multilingual people whose main languages include Creole, French, English, Spanish, and Dutch. Hence, we can speak of the Creolophone Caribbean, Francophone Caribbean, Hispanophone Caribbean, Anglophone Caribbean, etc. The polyglot Caribbean has produced a robust intellectual tradition that takes into perspective the theological reflections and hermeneutical tactics of the Christian people in the Caribbean. While mainstream Christian theological scholarship and academia in North America and Western Europe have yet to engage critically and responsibly the theological ideas and writings of Caribbean theologians and Christian thinkers, the theological and ecclesiastical Christian tradition in the Francophone and Creolophone Caribbean nation of Haiti is not well-known in North American ad Anglophone theological traditions. The goal of this essay is to revisit the Caribbean Christian theological tradition with an emphasis on the writings of twenty selected Haitian theologians and biblical scholars.

It is good to note that the Caribbean people have inherited a variety of religious systems and traditions, and their theological cosmology and worldview have been influenced by various forces and circles. Yet the Caribbean Region has its own theological tradition that is both parallel and different to mainstream Western Christian theological tradition. Caribbean theological tradition has many distinctive characteristics: it is dynamic, decolonial, postcolonial, political, interreligious, and emancipative, concurrently. To say that Caribbean theology is decolonial is to suggest that theological thinkers of the Caribbean, through their theological writings, attempt to deconstruct the negative colonial Christian heritage and understanding of God that were passed down to them from the time of slavery to the post-slavery or emancipative Caribbean societies. The colonial theological heritage dehumanizes the Caribbean humanity and questions the theological musings and religious piety of the Caribbean people. A postcolonial Caribbean theological hermeneutics and Christian practice is an attempt to move beyond the colonial Christian framework and the colonial theological order of things; through the process of theological discernment and hermeneutics of distrust, Caribbean theologians and biblical scholars seek to construct a theological tradition that reflects the Caribbean context and experience, and they also establish the voice and agency of Caribbean Christians in their theological discourse.

The political aspect of Caribbean theology gives attention to the political life and historical trajectories that continue to shape the Caribbean experience and life, and the Caribbean politico-theological discourse; these may include the history of dictatorship and totalitarianism in the Region, the problem of globalization and capitalism, and the continuing imperial occupations and military interventions from North America and European nations Hence, Caribbean theologians and Christian thinkers contribute to a biblical and theological hermeneutics that responds to these forces by forging a new political life and future for the Caribbean people. Caribbean political theology also engages the social dynamics and economic structure of the Region.

Furthermore, Caribbean theology is also interreligious and ecumenical in the sense that critical Caribbean theologians and biblical scholars are conscious about the various religious traditions and systems that have shaped Caribbean spirituality and religiosity, and Caribbean Christian identity and ecclesiastical practices in this part of the world. Also, critical Caribbean Christian theological discourse takes into consideration both the Asian, native America/indigenous, and African religious heritage that shaped and coalesce with the Christian heritage and identity. The dominant religious systems and traditions in the Antillean countries include Hinduism (Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago); Vodou (Haiti); Dominican Vudú; Cuban Vodú, Cuban Santería/Regla de Ocha; Obeah/Myalism, Zion Revivalism, and Rastafarianism (Jamaica); Obeah (the Bahamas, Antigua, Barbados, Surinam); Quimbois (Martinique, Guadeloupe); the Spiritual Baptists (Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Grenada); Shango (Trinidad); and Espiritismo (Cuba, Puerto Rico). Thus, Caribbean theology is a dynamic discourse in the various ways that it responds not only to the everyday Caribbean life and condition but as well as to the experience in the religion of the Caribbean people. Caribbean theology also understands the complex dynamics of encounters, assimilation, and adaptation theorized in concepts such as creolization, acculturation, inculturation, transculturation, and syncretism that have shaped Christian theology and biblical interpretation in that Region.

Finally, the emancipative character of Caribbean theology and biblical hermeneutics takes into consideration the vestiges of colonial and slave Christianity as well as the various forces and systems, both internal and external, and the economic and political challenges that continue to challenge the human condition, defer present emancipation, and delay future possibilities of the Caribbean people and nations. Caribbean theology of emancipation is an attempt to liberate the Caribbean people and nations structurally, politically, educationally, intellectually, spiritually, ad theologically from various forces of oppression and dehumanization—both internal and external powers.

The Anglophone Caribbean

Various theologians, Biblical Scholars, and Christian thinkers of the Caribbean have addressed these concerns and challenges mentioned in this analysis, which can be observed in the writings of Anglophone Caribbean theologians and biblical scholars, and both men and women Christian thinkers: Anthony G. Reggie (Postcolonial Black British Theology, Working Against the Grain: Re-Imaging Black Theology in the 21st Century, Is God Colour-Blind); Noel Leo Erskine (Decolonizing Theology: A Caribbean Perspective); Kortright Davis (Emancipation Still Comin’: Explorations in Caribbean Emancipatory Theology); Michael St. A. Miller (Reshaping the Contextual Vision in Caribbean Theology: Theoretical Foundations for Theology Which is Contextual, Pluralistic, and Dialectical); Idris  Hamid (Troubling of the Waters, I Search of new Perspectives); David I. Mitchell (With Eyes Wide Open, new Mission for A new People: Voices from the Caribbean ); Edmund Davis (Roots and blossoms); Dianne M. Stewart (Three Eyes from the Journey: African Dimensions of the Jamaican Religious Experience); Howard Gregory (Caribbean Theology: Preparing for the Challenges Ahead); Marjorie Lewis (“Diaspora Dialogue: Womanist Theology in Engagement With Some Aspects of the Black British and Jamaican Experience”); Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth (Righting Her-Story: Caribbean Women Encounter the Bible Story); Michael N. Jagessar (Black Theology in Britain: A Reader, Ethnicity: The Inclusive Church Resource); Carol Tomlin ( Preach It: Understanding African Caribbean Preaching, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ as the Dialectical Unveiling of the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,” “Black American Pentecostalism and the Ever-Increasing Materialization of Black Spiritualism in the Diaspora”); and Robert Beckford (Jesus is Dread: Black Theology and Black Culture in Britain, Dread and Pentecostal: A Political Theology for the Black Church in Britain).

The Hispanophone Caribbean

Similarly, theologians and Biblical scholars from the Hispanophone Caribbean have not only produced a rich theological tradition. They articulate a robust biblical hermeneutics that actively confronts the experience and life of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean people. Below, I offer a representative bibliography of such writings, from both men and women Christian thinkers:: Justo L. Gonzalez (Mañana: Christian Theology from a Hispanic Perspective, The development of Christianity in the Latin Caribbean); Ada María Isasi-Díaz (Mujerista Theology: A Theology for the Twenty-First Century, En la Lucha: Elaborating a Mujerista Theology); Mayra Rivera Rivera  (The Touch of Transcendence: A Postcolonial Theology of God); Fernando F. Segovia (Decolonizing Biblical Studies: A View from the Margins, Hispanic/Latino Theology: Challenge and Promise, Latino/a Biblical Hermeneutics: Problematics, Objectives, Strategies); Raul Gomez Treto (The Church and Socialism in Cuba); Teresa Delgado (A Puerto Rican Decolonial Theology: Prophesy Freedom, Augustine and Social Justice); Orlando Espín (Building Bridges, Doing Justice: Constructing a Latino/A Ecumenical Theology, From the Heart of Our People: Latino/ a Explorations in Catholic Systematic Theology); Agustina Luvis Núñez (El sexo en la Iglesia, Creada a su imagen: Una pastoral integral para la mujer); Loida I. Martell-Otero (Teología en Conjunto: A Collaborative Hispanic Protestant Theology, Latina Evangélicas: A Theological Survey from the Margins); Miguel A. De La Torre (The Politics of Jesús: A Hispanic Political Theology, Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins); Geraldina Céspedes Ulloa (Las teologías de la liberación ante el mercado y el patriarcado); Elizabeth Conde-Frazier (Latina Evangélicas: A Theological Survey from the Margins, Listen to the Children: Conversations with Immigrant Families); Michelle A. González (Afro-Cuban Theology: Religion, Race, Culture, and Identity, A Critical Introduction to Religion in the Americas: Bridging the Liberation Theology and Religious Studies Divide); ad Zaida Maldonado Pérez (Latina Evangélicas: A Theological Survey from the Margins, Introduction to Christian Theology).

The Francophone and Creolophone Caribbean: The Case for Haiti

To continue this conversation, the writings of Christian theologians and biblical scholars from the country of Haiti have been ignored in the dominant theological reflection and Christian academia, both in North America and Western Europe, for example. We should then ask this essential ad relevant question: can anything good and theologically dignified come out of Haiti? Has Haiti produced a theological tradition that is deemed its own and one that is integral to the greater Caribbean theological discourse and biblical hermeneutics, and concurrently in dialogue with other theological traditions and hermeneutical paradigms beyond the Haitian and Caribbean geographical frontiers? To these interrelated questions, we answer in the affirmative.

Looking back into the Haitian past and Haitian Christian tradition, Jean-William Hérivel may have been the first Haitian to study Christian Theology at the Université de France–Académie de Paris (Facultè de théologie protestante de Paris) in France and Western Europe. On July 9, 1887, at 4:00 pm, Mr Hérivel defended his thesis and was awarded a Bachelier en théologie (B.A., Theology). Hérivel’s thesis, “Haiti: Au Point de Vue Religieux” (“Haiti: A Religious Perspective”) was published the same year in the prestigious press called “Alencon: Imprimerie Typographique F. Guy.” The thesis is about 41 pages; French theologian Ed. Vaugher served as the supervisor of the thesis, and F. Lightenberger was the Dean of the School of Theology.

Furthermore, Jacques-Jules Bonnaud was the First Haitian Jesuit in Colonial Saint-Domingue-Haiti. He was probably the first Black professor and theologian of Haitian descent to have taught at a European higher learning/university.  Father Bonnaud was born in Cap-Francais, modern-day Cap-Haitian (“Okap”) on October 27, 1740 to a French Father and an African mother; hence, he was a mulatto child. As it was customary in Saint-Dominguan interracial relationships, at an early age, his parents sent the young Jacques-Jules to study in France. He attended La Flèche, a Jesuit High School, associated with the Compagnie de Jésus. On December 20, 1758, he entered the Jesuit order in Paris (des Jésuites de la Province de Paris) as a young seminarian; he was fifteen years old at the time.

The Jesuit Order appointed him as Professor at the Collège de Quimper in Bretagne (Brittany), France’s northwesternmost region. He taught there for two years until the King’s order to close the Compagnie de Jésus in 1762–the same year Britain entered the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) against Spain and Naples. It was also in April 1762 that Louis XV passed a decree for all black and mixed-race (mulatto) Frenchmen residing in France to register in the local municipal and with the offices of the Admiralty Court. On the government’s form, blacks and mulattoes had to declare their age, full name, religion, and reveal the purpose they were living in France. They were also to inform the government of their place of birth and the name of the ship that transported them to France.

Jacques-Jules Bonnaud was ordained as Priest at the Grande Séminaire de l’archidiocèse de Paris. Due to unfortunate circumstances associating with the French Revolution, he was assassinated in 1792 at the Séminaire des Carmes in Paris. In 1926, the eleventh year of the American military occupation in Haiti (1915-1934), Pope Pius XI beatified Father Jacques-Jules Bonnaud, rendering him the first Haitian Catholic Saint. In sum, Father Jacques-Jules Bonnaud was the first Haitian Jesuit theologian martyr during the time of the French Revolution.

20 Haitian Theologians and Biblical Scholars You Should Know

To move forward with our conversation, in the paragraphs below, I select twenty Haitian theologians and biblical scholars whose writings should be known beyond the border of Haiti and in the Anglophone world and elsewhere in the world.

1. Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Jean-Bertrand Aristide (PhD, African languages: University of South Africa) is Former President of Haiti and Founder of University of the Aristide Foundation (UniFA), Haiti.

* Recommended Writings: In the Parish of the Poor: Writings from Haiti (1990); Théologie et politique (1992); Aristide: An Autobiography (1993); Tout homme est un homme (1992); Névrose vétéro-testamentaire (1994); Dignity (1996); Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization (2000); Haiti-Haiti: Philosophical Reflections for Mental Decolonization (2011).

2. Laënnec Hurbon

Laënnec Hurbon (PhD, Theology: Institut Catholique de Paris; PhD, Sociology: Sorbonne University) is Professor at the Faculty of Human Sciences and President of the Scientific Council of the Doctoral College at the Université d’État d’Haïti (UEH) (State University of Haiti), Haiti.

* Recommended Writings: Dieu dans le Vodou haitien (1972); Le Barbare imaginaire (1987); Les mystères du vaudou/Voodoo: Search for the Spirit (1993); “The Church and Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Saint-Domingue.” In The abolitions of slavery: from Léger Félicité Sonthonax to Victor Schœlcher, p. 55-68/ Publisher: New York, NY [etc.]: Berghahn Books [etc.], 2003.

3. Jules Casseus

Jules Casseus (D.Min., Pastoral Theology: Colgate Rochester Divinity School) is Former President of the North Haiti Christian University (UCNH) in Haut-Limbé, Haiti.

* Recommended Writings: Pour une Église Authentiquement Haitien (1987); Théologie Pastorale : Etre un bon Pasteur dans un monde Corrompu (1997); Ethique Chrétienne : Etre un enfant de lumière dans un Monde de Ténèbres (2001); Haïti, quelle église– quelle libération? : (réflexions théologiques contextuelles autour des évènements socio-politiques et ecclésiologiques allant du 7 février 1986 au 7 février 1991) (1991); Haiti : what kind of church … what kind of freedom? (2004); Élements de théologie haïtienne (2007); Toward a contextual Haitian theology (2013).

4. Fritz Fontus

Fritz Fontus (PhD, Theology) served as Pastor of the Evangelical Baptist Church, Miami, U.S.A.

* Recommended Writings: Le chrétien et la politique (1982); Effective communication of the Gospel in Haiti: its inculturation (2001); Les Églises protestantes en Haïti. Communication et inculturation (2001).

5. Jean Fils-Aimé

Jean Fils-Aimé (PhD, Theology: Université de Montréal) is pastor and the host of the show Lumière sur le monde (“Light on the World”)’ in Montreal, Canada.

* Recommended Writings: “L’inculturation de la foi chrétienne au contexte du vodou haïtien : une analyse de l’oeuvre de trois théologiens protestants haïtiens” (Doctoral dissertation, 2005); Vodou, je me souviens (2005); Et si les loas n’étaient pas des diables? : une enquête à la lumière des religions comparées ; essai (2008); Le nécessaire dialogue entre le vaudou et la foi chrétienne: l”inculturation de la foi chrétienne au contexte du vaudou (2010); 200 ans de zombification massive. Les églises évangéliques en Haïti. Le temps des bilans (2017).

6. Karl Lévêque

Karl Lévêque (PhD, Philosophy: Université de Strasbourg) was the co-founder of the Bureau de la Communauté Chrétienne des Haitiens de Montréal (BCCHM) in Montréal, Canada.

* Recommended Writings: “La philosophie de la connaissance chez Lucien Lévy-Bruhl” (Doctoral dissertation, 1967); De la théologie politique à la théologie de la revolution (1970); L’interpellation mystique dans le discours duvaliérien, in Nouvelle Optique (1971); L’analyse sociale : pour voir au changement, in Relations (1982); En cas de conflit : une Église en situation de conflit (198?); L’analyse politique : idéologie et mentalité sociale (1993).

7. Ronald Charles

Ronald Charles (PhD, New Testament/Early Christianity: University of Toronto) is Assistant Professor in the Religious Studies Department at St. Francis Xavier University, Canada.

* Recommended Writings: Paul and the Politics of Diaspora (2014); Traductions Bibliques Créoles et Préjugés Linguistiques (2015); The Silencing of Slaves in early Jewish and Christian Writings (2019); “Interpreting the Book of Revelation in the Haitian context.” Black Theology: An International Journal 9.2 (2011) 177-198; “Q as a question from a postcolonial point of view.” Black Theology: An International Journal 7.2 (August 2009) 182-199.

8. Abson Joseph

Abson Joseph (PhD, New Testament Studies: Brunel University/London School of Theology) currently serves as the Academic Dean of Wesley Seminary and Professor of New Testament at Indiana Wesleyan University, U.S.A.

* Recommended Writings: Shaping Theological Education in the Caribbean: A Community Approach (2011); A Narratological Reading of 1 Peter (2012).

9. Dieumeme Noelliste

Dieumeme Noelliste (PhD, Theological Studies: Northwestern University) is Professor of Theological Ethics and the Vernon Grounds Chair of Pastoral Ministry and Social Ethics at Denver Seminary, U.S.A.

* Recommended Writings: Shaping Theological Education in the Caribbean: A Community Approach ( 2011); Diverse and Creative Voices: Theological Essays from the Majority World (2015); Les religions afro-caribeennes a la lumiere de la foi chretienne: Similitudes et differences (2019).

10. Jean Duthène Joseph

Jean Duthène Joseph (PhD, Theology: Trinity Theological Seminary) is Chancellor of the Séminaire de Théologie Evangélique de Port-au-Prince (STEP) (the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Port-au-Prince) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

* Recommended Writings: “The Symbiotic Relationship Between Roman Catholicism and Haitian Vodou and the Impact of their Association on the Protestant Church and Community in Haiti” (Doctoral dissertation, 2006); Le millénium : une réalité incontournable dans le plan de Dieu pour la fin des temps (2012); La foi judéo-chrétienne à la croisée des chemins (2017).

11. Chantale Victor Guiteau

Chantale Victor Guiteau (PhD, Theology: South African Theological Seminary) is professor of practical theology at the Centre de Formation Théologique academia cum spiritu, Haiti.

* Recommended Writings: “The Role of Evangelical Churches in Combating Structural Corruption in Haiti” (Doctoral dissertation, 2017); Combating Structural Corruption in Haiti: Role and Contribution of Evangelical Churches (2020); Les femmes dans l’expansion de l’Eglise de Dieu en Haiti : rôle et contribution (2002).

12. Nixon Shaba-lom Cleophat

Nixon Shaba-lom Cleophat (PhD, Systematic Theology and Social Ethics: Union Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of Religion at Bloomfield College, U.S.A.

* Recommended Writings: “A Critical Examination of Reinhold Niebuhr’s & James Cone’s Views on Sin and Redemption: Toward a Haitian Vodounist Theology of Social Evil & Human Liberation” (Doctoral dissertation, 2014); Vodou in Haitian Memory: The Idea and Representation of Vodou in Haitian Imagination (2016); Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective (2016); Critical Approaches to Religion: Race, Class, Sexuality, and Gender (2018).

13. Kawas François

Kawas François (PhD, Theology: Institut Catholique de Paris, STBS; PhD, Sociology: Institut Catholique de Paris, FASSE) is the President of the Jesuit Interprovincial Committee for the Reconstruction of Haiti and founding member of the National Committee for Reflection and Action. Currently, he serves as Professor of Sociology at the Université d’État d’Haïti (UEH) (State University of Haiti) and the founder and Director of the Centre de Réflexion et de Recherche Interdisciplinaire (CRI) des Jésuites, Haiti.

* Recommended Writings: “Nouvelle évangélisation et culture haïtienne: évolution institutionnelle de l’Eglise catholique en Haïti après le Concile Vatican II et son nouveau rapport au Vaudou” (Doctoral dissertation, 1994); L’Eglise catholique à l’épreuve du pluralisme religieux. Re- Cherche Documentaire sur la situation actuelle de l’Eglise catholique par Rapport aux Autres religion (2003); Vaudou et Catholicisme en Haïti à l’aube du au XXI ̊ : des repères pour un dialogue(2005); Sources documentaires de l’histoire des jésuites en Haïti aux XVIIIe et XXe siècles : 1704-1763, 1953-1964(2006); L’histoire des jésuites en Haïti aux XVIIIe et XXe siècles : 1704-1763, 1953-1964 (2006); L’ètat et l’èglise Catholique en Haïti aux XIX ̊et XX ̊siècles (1860-1980) : documents officiels, déclarations, correspondances etc. : Tome I (2006); Jésuites, sciences et changement social en Haïti, hier et aujourd’hui : un engagement intellectuel au service des autres (2010).

14. William Smarth

William Smarth (PhD, Theology) is Professor of Theology and History of the Haitian Catholic Church at the Centre Inter-Instituts de Formation Religieuse (CIFOR).

* Recommended Writings: Mentalité chrétienne pour le développement : simples réflexions pour le stage de formation missionnaire (1968); Ki kalite demokrasi nou bezwen ann Ayiti (1991); L’Église concordataire sous la dictature des Duvalier (1957-1983) (2000); Histoire de l’Église catholique d’Haïti, 1492-2003 : des points de repère (2015).

15. Godefroy Midy

Godefroy Midy (PhD, Theology: Université de Montréal; PhD, Fordham University) is Professor of Christian Spirituality and Practical theology at the Centre de spiritualité Manrèse, Tabarre, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

* Recommended Writings: “Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s Philosophy of the Person” (Doctoral dissertation , 1971); “Jalons pour une théologie haitienne libératrice en dialogue avec G. Gutierrez et J.L.Segundo” (Doctoral dissertation, 1977); “Evangéliser Haiti pour une culture de vie,” Bulletin de Liaison, Vol. IX, No. 3, Centre Pedro-Arrupe, Haiti (Octobre 2004), p. 2-17.

16. Henri Claude Télusma

Henri Claude Télusma (PhD, Theology: Université de Strasbourg) is Professor of theology and Academic Dean at the Université Chrétienne du Nord d’Haïti (UCNH), Haiti.

* Recommended Writings: “Une analyse théologique de la coexistence christianisme/vaudou en Haïti : ouverture pour un dialogue interreligieux A theological analysis of the coexistence Christianity / Voodoo in Haiti : opening for an interreligious dialogue” (Doctoral dissertation, 2017); Théologie et prédication dans le contexte actuel d’Haïti (2017); Bicentenaire du protestantisme en Haïti : enjeux et perspectives théologiques (2015); État des lieux des rapports antagonistes entre chrétiens et vodouisants en Haïti (2018).

17. Manassé Pierre-Louis

Manassé Pierre-Louis (PhD. cand., Theology: Université de Strasbourg) is Director and Founder of the organization Penser la Théologie, France and Haiti.

* Recommended Writings :Bicentenaire du protestantisme en Haïti : enjeux et perspectives théologiques (2015); Théologie et prédication dans le contexte actuel d’Haïti (2017); “Le Manifeste de l’Eglise Pour Un Temps de Rupture et d’un Renouveau Spirituel” (2019); Mes raisons de croire: Questions discutées sur la foi et la raison (2020).

18. Wilner Cayo

Wilner Cayo (PhD. Theology: Université de Montréal) is Lecturer in Apologetics at the École de Théologie Évangélique du Québec and Adjunct Professor of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of Laval University, Canada.

* Recommended Writings: “L’anthropologie théologique évangélique à la rencontre de la rationalité technoscientifique” (Doctoral dissertation, 2012); “L’Église haïtienne au Québec: origine, évolution et visage actuel.” In: L’identité des protestants francophones au Québec: 1834–1997. ed. Denis Remon. Montreal: ACFAS, 1998. 139–160. Dejean, Paul. “Les haïtiens au Québec; Statut éthique de la vérité en postmodernité” (M.A. Thesis, 2004).

19. Lys Stéphane Florival

Lys Stéphane Florival (PhD, Christian Ethics/Theology: Loyola University Chicago).

* Recommended Writings: “Haiti’s Troubles: Perspectives From the Theology of Work and From Liberation Theology” (Doctoral Dissertation, 2011); “Liberation ethics in Latin America: a methodological and theoretical analysis of the work of Dussel and consideration of its application to Haiti” (MA Thesis, 1989).

20. Celucien Joseph

Celucien Joseph (PhD, Systematic Theology and Ethics: University of Pretoria; PhD, Literary Studies: University of Texas at Dallas) is Associate Professor of English at India River State College, U.S.A.

* Recommended Writings: Theologizing in Black: On Africana Theological Ethics and Anthropology (2020), Revolutionary Change and Democratic Religion: Christianity, Vodou, and Secularism (2020); The New Life Catechism for Children (2019); “Faith, Hope, and the Poor: Theological Ideas and Moral Vision of Jean-Betrand Aristide” (Doctoral dissertation, 2017); “The Rhetoric of Prayer: Dutty Boukman, The Discourse of “Freedom from Below,” and the Politics of God,” Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion2:9 (June 2011):1-33; “The Rhetoric of Suffering, Hope, and Redemption in Masters of the Dew: A Rhetorical and Politico-Theological Analysis of Manuel as Peasant-messiah and Redeemer,” Theology Today (October 2013) 70: 323-350; “Redefining cultural, national, and religious identity: The Christian–Vodouist dialogue?” Theology Today, 2016, Vol. 73(3) 241–262; “Toward a Politico-Theology of Relationality: Justice as Solidarity and the Poor in Aristide’s Theological Imagination,” Toronto School of Theology30: 2 (December 2014): 269-300; “Viv Dechoukaj Long Live Uprooting Aristide s Politico theology of Defensive Violence,” Black Theology, 15:3 (2017):185-208; “James Cone and the Crisis of American Theology,” Missionalia, v46 n2 (2018): 197-221; “The Meaning of James H. Cone and the Significance of Black Theology: Some Reflections on His Legacy,” Black Theology, v18 n2 (2020): 112-143; “Theodicy and Black Theological Anthropology in James Cone’s Theological Identity,” Toronto Journal of Theology, v35 n1 (2019): 83-111; “Towards a Caribbean Political Theology of Emancipation and Decolonization: A Comparative Analysis of Four Caribbean Theologians,” Black theology, 16, no. 2, (2018): 148-180.


Haitian and Caribbean theologians articulate a common vision of a Caribbean theology of emancipation and decolonization. By any means are we overlooking theological disunity and the hermeneutical difference in the writings and ideas of Caribbean Christian thinkers? Notably, their political theological discourse is an attempt to engage the Caribbean experience within the framework of the postcolonial life and anti-imperial reason. There exist substantial convergences and confluences, as well as ideological parallels and connections in the political theology and contextual theology of freedom and hope in the work of these thinkers, emerged from different Caribbean locations. Finally, Haitian and Caribbean theology of emancipation, decolonization, and hope emerges out of the labyrinth of European slavery and colonialism, American imperialism, White supremacy, and globalization. Yet Haitian and Caribbean theological reflections demonstrate the subjectivity of Caribbean Christian theologians to articulate their own perspective and collective voice about God, humanity, and the world.

Celucien L. Joseph







Celucien L. Joseph (PhD, Systematic Theology and Ethics: University of Pretoria; PhD, Literary Studies: University of Texas at Dallas) is a prominent Haitian-American theologian and prolific writer who has written about the relationship between theology and ethics, theology and anthropology, and theology, race, and culture. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of English at Indian River State College. His recent books include Theologizing in Black: On Africana Theological Ethics and Anthropology (2020), and Revolutionary Change and Democratic Religion: Christianity, Vodou, and Secularism (2020), published by Wipf and Stock, respectively. His forthcoming book is entitled Aristide: A Theological and Political Introduction (Fortress Press 2021). He is currently working on two new books: Theological Education and Christian Scholarship for Human Flourishing: Hermeneutics, Knowledge, and Multiculturalism, and Christianity in the Making: The Early African Framers of Christianity and Christian Theology.

Further Reading and Resources

This post is part of a series The Global Church Project team are running profiling (mainly) female theologians from all over the globe — see our other articles in this series:

Series Editor: Graham Joseph Hill

Celucian L. Joseph, “20 Haitian Theologians and Biblical Scholars You Should Know About

Jocabed Solano and Drew Jennings-Grisham, “Some Indigenous Women Theologians You Should Know About

Stephanie A. Lowery, “9 African Women Theologians You Should Know About”

Emmanuella Carter, “17 African American Women Theologians You Should Know About”

Juliany González Nieves, “23 Latin American Women and USA Latinas in Theology and Religion You Should Know About”

Grace Al-Zoughbi Arteen and Graham Joseph Hill, “18 Arab Female Theologians and Christian Leaders You Should Know About”

Jessie Giyou Kim and Graham Joseph Hill, “18 Asian Female Theologians You Should Know About (Plus Others For You To Explore)”

Graham Joseph Hill and Jen Barker, “20 Australian and New Zealander Female Theologians You Should Get to Know in 2020”

Graham Joseph Hill and Jen Barker, “160+ Australian and New Zealander Women in Theology You Should Know About”

Graham Joseph Hill and Jessie Giyou Kim, “12 Women on Changing the World: A 12-Session Film Series on Transforming Society and Neighborhoods”

Juliany González Nieves, “Caribbean Christian Theology: A Bibliography”

Juliany González Nieves offers “A Reading List on Latino/a/x and Latin American Theologies” HERE and downloadable HERE. See “A Latinx Theology Reading List” by Santi Rodriguez, HERE.

Graham Joseph Hill

Rev. Dr. Graham Joseph Hill OAM serves as Mission Catalyst for Church Planting and Missional Renewal with the Uniting Church in NSW and ACT, Australia. Previously, he was the Principal of Stirling Theological College (Melbourne), the Vice-Principal of Morling Theological College (Sydney), and an Associate Professor at the University of Divinity, Australia. Graham is an ordained and accredited minister with the Baptist Churches of Australia. Graham received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2024 for “service to theological education and to the Baptist Churches of Australia.” He has planted and pastored churches and been in ministry since 1988. Graham is the author or editor of 15 books. Graham writes at

Graham's qualifications include: OAM, Honours Diploma of Ministry (SCD), Bachelor of Theology (SCD), Master of Theology (Notre Dame), and Doctor of Philosophy (Flinders).

See ORCID publication record:


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