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

Respectful Conversations on Diversity

Written by: on December 1, 2013

I found these short readings to be very insightful and relevant.

I was drawn to sections in which worldview and contextualization – in which part of my semester’s thesis is based upon – were highlighted.

Worldview should play such a strong part in our decisions, beliefs and actions, but yet doesn’t.  Richardson assumes that believers are aware that local culture embodies the way scripture has been translated over the centuries and how single worlds can come to represent entire belief system.  And yet, that particular translation of a word was different and had different meaning in the past.

Balmadeda increases the tension by claiming that context, time and location factor in creating a filter or lens in which we interpret biblical text.  I love her sentence that it “isn’t whether we should contextualize the scriptures (we all do it), but whether we are able to contextualize it well enough.”

Part of my studies have been relegated around worldview, cultural intelligence and gay theology.  Time and time again, I read from conservative writers that the new theologians who are more tolerant to gay issues are just reading the bible through a homosexual lens, when it should be read through a heterosexual lens.  Maybe, maybe not.  But Balmaceda goes on to challenge those of us who live comfortable, individualistic lives, to allow those in the global South to have a voice, in other words, those who have approached scripture from difficult and unjust realities.

I can’t help but think of the LGBT groups and individuals I’ve met who still hold to a strong faith.  That is their context (difficult and unjust realities).  They are actually contextualizing the scriptures in a reality that is closer to the one Jesus and his followers lived in than me, as a successful, privileged American.

Whether it’s a group that has been discriminated against or one living in poverty or wealth, she ends her short paper by reminding us that it’s crucial to listen.  Listen to each other to discern their cultural context in which their faith is being lived out.

Recently I attended a conference on diversity in the church.  As in many conferences and studies, multiple speakers spoke of the need for transformation.  Then statistic after statistic, to reinforce their point was shown on a screen – of how Christians behave just as badly as non-Christians; out-of-wedlock pregnancies, discrimination, jail time, drunkenness etc.   I hear this often and the same theme has even been shared by some of our cohort in the papers that have been written.

Williams would disagree with the above statement as he writes of religion and morality as “indispensable support and primary foundation” on which successful, God-fearing countries are built.  He lists a litany of reasons why we need this fear.  He says that incarceration rates, social services, teen pregnancy, gun violence etc. all mirror the fall of Rome and relate the current America.

My questions to him would be, if that’s true, but the majority of Americans claim to be Christians but yet mirror the despicable reality presented, then what is the benefit?  If Rome fell because of a secular mentality rather than Christian, what was she when she was successful and powerful?  I don’t think it was Christian and I don’t think that Williams has the answer.

I think we need to face the reality that Religion has little value.  Internal transformation however does.  Williams states that without internal change, there can be no external or situational change.  Here lies the crux of our problem and it relates back to worldview.  We see no transformation in the lives of so many Christians because in essence we are worshiping a worldview of our creation, using the Bible for justification.  When we should be understanding that we interpret belief and see the Bible through various lens, and by acknowledging that reality, we can then let the Bible transform us internally and then the scriptures will be justified by our lives.

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Phil Smart

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