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Indigenous Theology and the Western Worldview

A Decolonized Approach to Christian Doctrine

series: Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology

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This volume by a Cherokee teacher, former pastor, missiologist, and historian brings Indigenous theology into conversation with Western approaches to history and theology.

Written in an accessible, conversational style that incorporates numerous stories and questions, this book exposes the weaknesses of a Western worldview through a personal engagement with Indigenous theology. Randy Woodley critiques the worldview that undergirds the North American church by dismantling assumptions regarding early North American histories and civilizations, offering a comparative analysis of worldviews, and demonstrating a decolonized approach to Christian theology.

Woodley explains that Western theology has settled for a particular view of God and has perpetuated that basic view for hundreds of years, but Indigenous theology originates from a completely different DNA. Instead of beginning with God-created humanity, it begins with God-created place. Instead of emphasizing individualism, it emphasizes a corporateness that encompasses the whole community of creation. And instead of being about the next world, it is about the tangibility of our lived experiences in this present world. The book encourages readers to reject the many problematic aspects of the Western worldview and to convert to a worldview that is closer to that of both Indigenous traditions and Jesus.

1. The Myths of History and Progressive Civilizations
Question and Response
2. Comparing Western and Indigenous Worldviews
Question and Response
3. Decolonizing Western, Christian Theology
Question and Response
Closing Interview


"Woodley's Indigenous Theology and the Western Worldview shakes the very foundations of Christian theology, challenging us to rebuild from the ruins, celebrating the gracious gift of Indigenous people's creation-centered, narrative-based vision of the Jesus Way."

Peter Goodwin Heltzel, visiting researcher, Boston University School of Theology

"This book isn't business as usual. Randy Woodley isn't business as usual either. And thank God! Woodley puts a mirror up to Western civilization and the Christian theology typical of it. The sight isn't pretty. Its history is full of ugly episodes and its worldview has been so harmful. But Woodley's Indigenous theology offers correctives. This book gives me hope!"

Thomas Jay Oord, director, Center for Open and Relational Theology

"Indigenous Theology and the Western Worldview is a wise pathway to decolonizing Western doctrine and practice; spaciously inviting readers to rediscover our place as creatures within Creator's ecosystem. Abounding in story and conversation, Woodley's book demonstrates how a profoundly human, relational, and located theological method can open you to the wonder and presence of Creator in the everyday stuff of life."

Dwight J. Friesen, associate professor of practical theology, The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology; coauthor of 2020s Foresight: Three Vital Practices for Thriving in a Decade of Accelerating Change

"Randy Woodley has gifted us with a book that cannot be put down. With a balance of wisdom, humility, and humor, he introduces us to a history that has not been told but that holds truths needed for living well on Turtle Island/North America. In this book you will discover powerful comparative analysis, stories well told, and the sacred character of land, place, and space. Woodley introduces us to the Indigenous Jesus, and you will never be the same after meeting him. Turtle Island needs this book, and you need to read it."

Allen Jorgenson, assistant dean and William D. Huras Chair in Ecclesiology and Church History, Martin Luther University College at Wilfrid Laurier University; author of Indigenous and Christian Perspectives in Dialogue

The Author

  1. Randy S. Woodley

    Randy S. Woodley

    Randy S. Woodley (PhD, Asbury Theological Seminary) is a Cherokee teacher, poet, activist, former pastor, missiologist, and historian who serves as distinguished professor of faith and culture and director of Intercultural and Indigenous Studies at Portland...

    Continue reading about Randy S. Woodley


Named One of Fifteen Important Theology Books of 2022, Englewood Review of Books

"Much of theology (like much of our world) stands in need of redemptive rethinking. Even the format of Randy Woodley's latest book challenges Western presumptions about what should characterize a comprehensive work of theology. Indigenous Theology and the Western Worldview is a conversational text that employs question and answer sections, narrative storytelling, and passionate exhortation. . . . The choices Woodley makes in the course of this book result in theology that haunts as it moves through its readers. We are left with the realization that we need to decolonize the assumption that faithful theology doesn't need to have an emotional impact."

Lauren D. Sawyer,

Christian Century