“The Gospel has no permanent resident culture.”

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I got the above quote from the newly published Africa Bible Commentary. It’s a commentary on the Bible written by 70 Christian African Scholars in Africa, and is probably a must have until Jesus comes back.  Click on the image to read more about it.

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7 Comments»

  chiafrica wrote @

hey yucan.

i see you’re messing around with your website a little. good stuff. hey thanks for your comments and thoughts. i’d be curious to read this book. i think there are some powerful things to consider in regards to a more diverse commentary on the gospels. it might be late, but can you explain / unwrap that quote more? i’m thinking it comments on our sense that our lives on earth are permanent… as opposed a wider redemptive view of life … it’s late… i’m speaking kind of in jargon…

-ben

  elderj wrote @

i’ve seen that book, but haven’t had a chance to read it

  yucan wrote @

Ben-

Thanks for the question. I think it definitely touches on what you bring up, how we think our lives on earth are permanent, within our cultures, but in actuality they may not be. I think the most basic meaning of the quote is that the Gospel is essentially transcultural; there is no one culture that can say the Gospel is best understood, applied, lived in our particular culture. It should never be considered as belong to one culture in an exclusive or exalting sort of way.

  chiafrica wrote @

hey yucan,

that makes more sense. spinning off of that: i’ve been thinking more about what eternity means. i mean, as with infiniti, it isn’t something that has end, which baffles understanding. yet, i think if we consider our lives in relationship to the eternal, then maybe we begin to see the gospel as something that isn’t what we define, but somethign that defines us.

miss you dude!

-chia

  Floyd wrote @

Yucan, in reference to your reply to Ben:

“I think the most basic meaning of the quote is that the Gospel is essentially transcultural; there is no one culture that can say the Gospel is best understood, applied, lived in our particular culture. It should never be considered as belong to one culture in an exclusive or exalting sort of way.”

My response is dependent upon what you mean semantically in your comments. If you mean by those statements that the Gospel can be applied to and transform any society that embraces it, that is true. No society or culture owns the Gospel, the Gospel of Jesus owns the world, and each culture will be judged on the degree to which it accepted or rejected the Word. Or actually, the degree of the numbers of people who receive the Gospel, and employ it in shaping their lives in their culture, transforming that culture the way that the Holy Spirit transforms the penitent individual man. And no one culture possesses the right to insist on other cultures expressing the Gospel in the same way as they, except in the requirement that we all must alike accept the same Gospel message, and the same principles that flow from the Scriptures.

It is solely in their expression that diversity can have its proper place, not in its theology. That truth is shown today in the fact that it is in the Christian communities of the Third World where the greatest devotion to doctrinal purity is now expressed, while the historical denominations of the West, especially Europe, have so rejected their traditional teachings that they can no longer be justly called Christian churches at all.

However, if by the above statements you made you mean that no one civilization has the right to say that the Gospel has had a greater impact upon its life, or acts as a foundation for its existence, then you are simply ignoring history. Even the portions of Africa which was influential upon the earliest development of the faith (Athanasius’ Egypt or Augustine’s Hippo, for example), were actually parts of a European-Mediterranean Roman Empire, both pre- and post-Constantinian. Ethiopia’s Judeo-Christian culture was directly connected to Judaism under Solomon and Christianity under the Apostles, particularly Philip’s impartation of the grace of Christ to the Ethiopian potentate the Acts calls ‘the eunuch.’ And the sub-Saharan expressions of the Christian church trace their beginnings to Western missionaries and church planters.

Can native African animism claim a Scriptural foundation? Or Hinduism of India, or ancient poly-spiritual China and Asia, or Islam of the Middle East and South Asia? Or, God forbid, the trans-cultural curse of atheism, whether in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, Mengistu’s Ethiopia, Mao’s China and Pol Pot’s Cambodia? The West, to the degree it has failed, is to the degree it departed from its foundations. The West is no exclusivist possessor of Christianity, but to ignore history and pretend that it has no reason to boast of a Christian foundation for its civilization is as laughable as the act of the European Union in removing any mention of Christianity in its preamble’s recitation of Europe’s historical origins.

As a Westerner, I humbly must acknowledge the flaws of my culture, and pray for the Lord to yet have mercy on us again and bring us revival. But it is healthy and right to take non-arrogant pride in the fact that it is Western civilization which was the first to embrace the faith as a transforming and foundational ethic. Some will call that healthy and patriotic pride a form of racism, and that Western Christianity should only feel shame for its heritage. That is no more fair than to tell African Christians that they should live in shame because their recent ancestors were shamans or Muslims. When Western Christians, especially Americans, are allowed to celebrate their distinctiveness while embracing the new heritage of faith now built by their brothers everywhere else, the divide of East and West, North and South, of race and ethnicity, will go a long way toward being healed.

  Kelly G. wrote @

That seems like a really, really interesting book. I think a lot of times we hear that Christianity has its roots in and owes its propagation to Western culture, but personally I feel like the ancient Western civilizations did at least equal amounts harm as good. While of course I’m sure there were also some really godly men and women, the Anglo-Saxons and the Britons from about the 14th or 15th century onward deeply mingled mysticism and a very specific breed of ‘Christianity’ highly dependent on works over faith and really questionable idols such as pilgrimages, saints exalted as gods to the extent that a nearly polytheistic belief system was formed and deep corruption in the church as a means of capital gain, as is strongly evidenced by all the influential and representative literature of the time period (Margery Kempe, Beowulf, Chaucer, Sir Gawain, Donne, Milton, Bede, etc.); the Spanish were responsible for the Inquisition and for the Conquistadors; etc. It’s really exciting to know that stuff is being published that doesn’t focus on such a Euro-centric or even historical view of the gospel, but that focuses more on recent history that probably has more of a direct connection to us today, and that–it would seem–exhorts us to reach out more now and focus on what God is doing globally now, rather than becoming immersed in whatever’s happened in the past. I’d love to read that sometime.

  yucan wrote @

Floyd, Kelly-

I think the two of you are definitely touching on some great things. It’s definitely a mixed bag in so many ways- so much harm has been done in the supposed name of Christ, so much good as well. One fact I have found intriguing as I’ve tried to think through this (and I apologize- I don’t have the source for this currently but I did see it in a trusted source): more deaths have occurred in the name of Atheism, particularly Stalin’s Russia (if I’m not mistaken- again, my bad for the lack of sourcing now), than in the name of religion in the last 2000 years. I think there is a definite case to make for the positive influence of a theistic, even “Christian” worldview in comparison to others. Of course, we do well to mention avoid the errors of pride, living in the past, and many many other errors, all of which you two bring up. Speaking of which- I appreciate this article that was sent to me recently. It definitely exposes some terrible ways the West can screw things up with the Global South and East.
http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB116494655432337804-lMyQjAxMDE2NjA0NjkwNDY2Wj.html


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