A History beyond Innocence

As a white male citizen of the United States I found these words from Justo L. González to be eye-opening:

...biblical history is a history beyond innocence. Its only real heroes are the God of history and history itself, which somehow continues moving forward even in spite of the failures of its great protagonists. Since this is also the nature of Hispanic history, it may well be that on this score we have a hermeneutical advantage over those who history is still at the level of guilty innocence, and who therefore must read Scripture in the same way in which they read their own history.

To those who think of their own history in terms of high ideals and purity, this may seem to detract from the power and inspiration of Scripture. This, however, is not the case with Hispanics. We know that we were born out of an act of violence of cosmic proportions in which our Spanish forefathers raped our Indian foremothers. We have no skeletons in our closet. Our skeletons are at the very heart of our history and our reality as a people. Therefore, we are comforted when read the genealogy of Jesus and find there not only a Gentile like ourselves but also incest and what amounts to David’s rape of Bathsheba. The Gospel writer did not hide the skeletons in Jesus’ closet but listed them, so that we may know that the Savior has really come to be one of us—not just one of the high and mighty, the aristocratic with impeccable blood lines, but one of us.
— from Manana: Christian Theology from a Hispanic Perspective, pp. 77-78.

 

In other words, Latinos are aware of their history and its complications. In the previous chapter of this book González outlines Latino history and its relationship to Christianity. When beginning this chapter he outlines the history of the Hebrews/Jews with all of the errors and immoralities of their forefathers and foremothers being put into writing, acknowledged. It wasn't until early adulthood that I realized that the forefathers of the United States—Washington, Jefferson, et al.—were not pure saints, but real men, sometimes really bad men. What is it about our way of retelling history in white American culture that prefers to ignore the skeletons in our own closet? Is this because we must white-wash (pun intended) our past in order to justify our self-narrative in the present as a beacon of hope, freedom, and democracy? If we admit we've failed in the past does that open Pandora's box allowing us to consider that we may be making mistakes in the present as a nation and that maybe we're not the "greatest nation in the world" in any real sense other that military might? 

Additionally, I wonder if this approach to history shapes white Evangelicalism's ideas about "inerrancy". I'm not saying that the idea of inerrancy demands this, but some forms of inerrancy seem to defend a "perfect Bible" for the same reasons: we can admit that there are troublesome parts without feeling as if the whole thing has been corrupted.