DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Grassroots for Understanding (Last Week’s Reading)

Written by: on June 6, 2018

In Simon Chan’s work, “Grassroots Asian Theology,” the author touches deeply upon the need to not only understand the role that Christianity plays in Asian cultures, but also the impact that role may have already had on modern theology. Early on Chan discusses the two processes by which he will try to interpret Asian Theology: ressourcement and aggiornamento[1]. Ressourcement is engaging with early sources of spiritual life; whereas aggiornamento is the ability to adapt and update in light of new situations. Ironically for myself, these two factors (though I did not have a name for them) have been the curious question I have often asked myself regarding appropriate ministry. For the first, it was how we take the scriptures we have been given, which are strongly based upon civilizations that have long evolved or disappeared, and still find the modern day relevance in the message. However, contrary to that of aggiornamento, I have pondered how to find that message without changing it, in spite of the fact that the world is changing around it.

For the sake of ministry and this course, my quandary has been a little different though, in that, I am not working at a missionary at this venture, but rather hoping to learn and understand the impacts of Christianity in other parts of the world. Through this course, I suppose I keep challenging the different context with that of Paul entering Athens; in which, though he first takes notice of the people and their pagan worship, he does not lose sight of the fact that his role is conversion, not assimilation. One quote that was made in the reading by Paul Hiebert was, “The foreignness of the culture we add to the gospel offends and must be eliminated. But the gospel itself offends. It is supposed to offend, and we dare not weaken its offense. The gospel must be contextualized, but it must remain prophetic. It must stand in judgment of what is evil in all cultures as well as in all persons.[2]” The point for me being that the missionary must not lose sight of the goal of conversion, though they will probably be more successful at achieving that goal if they can first understand who they are dealing with. More emphatically, we must make sure that we do not become so concerned with the cultural narrative that we forget that we are there to bring souls to Christ, not meet them half-way.

With all that said however, I found this book fascinating from the regard of seeing the influences that push Asain theology…not just in regard to Christianity. The text also dealt with Islamic image of “identity[3]” and the Hindu image of “identity[4]”; a particular interest for my own dissertation, because I am working to demonstrate the importance of various identities in the forming of the church. It would be prudent for a missionary or ministry to understand the family traits that seem to have great impacts upon the Asian community before trying to teach them about the “family” nature of Christianity. However, I actually thought that the imagery of God as the “Father[5]” would actually resonate well with the structural nature described in this reading. Family is a huge factor in all of their reasoning, so it would seem connecting them to God in that manner would have a strong impact in their faith.

One highly fascinating point that I thought tied in well with some of my discussions from Pullinger was in regard to the topics of miraculous healings. In his section on Christ and Salvation, the author points out the struggle with understanding the “Savior” aspect of Christ in the midst of the polytheistic views of the Hindus and the aggressive monotheistic contrast held by the Muslims and Jews. The interesting point was that Chan pointed out the one thing that seemed to give credibility to Christ and the “truth of the gospel,” lived in the fact that many had seen divine healing as a response to prayer[6]. The discussions I had with others was based upon my own skepticism around many who boast the power to heal, or a multitude of miracles; however, I did not say that I did not believe miracles were still possible today. The fact is, I love the thought of believing that God still delivers miracles today; but I also believe with all my heart that God answers prayers…especially in regards to healing…whether miraculous or even through time. My belief is that God still knows what is necessary to reach the hearts of those who would believe, and in spite of various religious beliefs, various traditions, and various other barriers, He is still able to find a way. However, this still calls to point my first comments: how do we deliver the message without corrupting it? I believe that is the challenge we must always strive to overcome.

2 Timothy 1:13-14 (NKJV)
13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

 

Ultimately, I found that I really appreciated this reading for the benefit of my own research, because it shows that though all cultures seem to view Christianity differently, and their struggles are not always the same, we can all learn from one another in pursuit of progressing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our histories, cultures, traditions, and people are all valuable because they are different and bring something new to the ministry of Christ.

 

[1] Chan, Simon. Grassroots Asian Theology: Thinking the Faith from the Ground Up (p. 11). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition. P 7.

[2] Ibid, p 11.

[3] Ibid, p 48.

[4] Ibid, p 52.

[5] John 8:42.

[6]  Chan, Simon. Grassroots Asian Theology: Thinking the Faith from the Ground Up (p. 11). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition. P 91.

About the Author

Shawn Hart

2 responses to “Grassroots for Understanding (Last Week’s Reading)”

  1. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Shawn! Im just glad I was not the last one to get a post in for last week 😀

  2. Hasilbertapa says:

    Hi Sir, how do i get more information about thiss?

Leave a Reply to Hasilbertapa Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *