Fear of the Other: No Fear in Love
Will Willimon, professor of the practice of Christian ministry at Duke Divinity School, has written a new book on the distinctively Christian way to engage people considered to be outside mainstream Christian culture.
The book, Fear of the Other: No Fear in Love, was published in April by Abingdon Press and is an attempt to invite readers to think like Christians about xenophobia, especially during this tumultuous presidential election campaign.
In the book, Willimon discusses the Gospel command to love and not merely tolerate those considered to be “other” or outside mainstream Christian culture. Rooted in the faith of Israel and the Christian story and vision, he brings a Wesleyan perspective to what may be the hardest thing for people of faith to do: keeping and loving the "other" as they are—without any need for them to become like us.
Emphasizing biblical teaching to receive these persons for who they are and their differences as gifts and mysteries bearing the grace of God, Willimon also offers a strong critique of the privileged who often rush to speak of reconciliation and evade the injustice of huge inequalities faced by foreigners and strangers—as well as the antagonism the stranger experiences. He also identifies concrete and everyday ways persons are formed in welcoming others without annihilating their differences.
Rooted in the New Testament understanding of Gentile outsiders grafted into the covenant community, Willimon argues that God comes to us through so-called outsiders, strangers, immigrants, and those without status. Beyond welcome, Christians must become “other” to the world, shaking off the dominant culture’s identity and privilege through practices of listening, humility, and understanding.