Thursday, April 27, 2006

Christianity Rediscovered Chapter 3

So, here is the place you can put your thoughts for chapter 3.

Donovan carefully explores culture and Paul's missionary strategy...definitely some fodder for discussion.

You guys are great!


Josh said...

So, I'll be the first to post on this chapter and let me say that it's loaded.

The most interesting comment he makes, and I think the comment that provides the most fodder for conversation, is how he understands culture and Jesus...Jesus is the fulfillment of cultures...

But I have to go. Dang. More on this later...

And on the difference between evangelization and pastoralization.

Brian said...

I'm a little late to this party, but apparently not alone...

Tons here in this chapter:
1) TOTALLY DISAGREE with the following thought process, "... all these things liturgy,...etc... would be a cultural response to a central, unchanging, supracultural, uninterpreted gospel." Like there is thie mystery gospel floating in space for us to somehow figure, claim, understand, re-work and culturalize. Ummm... NO. The word became flesh, not some ambiguous mystery like the ingredients of spam and twinkies. The gospel cannot and does not exist outside of culture. It is in culture. God is here. He is present. It is not for us to find this mystery gospel and then fit it to a context, it is for us to find it in the very context and culture that we find ourselves.

2) YEAH, for his statement in the very next paragraph that is for me the BEGINNING of the discussion for all of us, "At this point I had to make the humilitating admission that I did not know what the gospel was."

3) For me the rest of the chapter asks of ME this question, "If we are to be missionaries in OUR place, what are our measuring sticks? Is it longevity? Is it numbers of people in attendance? Is it monies raised? "Good" answers to these questions might garner pats on the back and an increase in budgets, but perhaps not kingdom results.

Finally, Josh, I'm not finding the quote, "Jesus is the fulfillment of cultures." Perhaps it's because I skip all the words larger than 6 letters??? But if its there it needs some unpacking anyway!

daveapplegate said...

brian, can you be my adoptive big brother?

Josh said...

Brian, he didn't directly say it...

this is what he said, "Christ himself said, 'I did not come to do away with the law (the Jewish culture and religion) but to fulfill it'(mt. 5:7)." (24)

I took this to mean that he was implying that Christ came to fulfill all cultures and religions...if this is true, I think I might have to agree and disagree. Agree in that Christ fulfills the best parts of a culture/religion, and disagree that he abolishes, or does away with the worst parts of religion/culture. I am not sure that Christ has come to fulfill the capitalistic agenda.

I also thought that his thoughts on missionary and pastoral work are interesting. The line that the "concept of first evangelization lies at the heart of the distinction between missionary and pastoral work. it is directed essentially to people who have never heard of Christ" (25).

I wonder if there is such a thing as de-evangelization, or re-evangelization, reworking people's mis-conceptions about God.

Kevin said...

I struggled a bit with this chapter but here are some thoughts.

1. I don't agree with his statement, "As I began to ponder the evangelization of the Masai, I had to realize that God enables a people, any people, to reach salvation through their culture and tribal, racial customs and traditions." I think that God makes Himself evident to all people. And I think that the way people come to understand God is (I don't know the right word to say . . . influenced by . . . maybe) their culture. But I don't think that it is through their culture. I think that he's almost saying it is because of their culture; almost as if all cultures point to God. And I don't believe that.

2. I do think that he's on the money though when he says, "During those days I spent long hours thinking long, difficult thoughts, and sometimes frightening ones, about the momentous task that faced me - the bringing together of a culture and the gospel."

3. I think he misses the point when he says, "If we can say nothing else at this point, at least we have to admit that our work, in this respect, is not biblical; indeed, we have strayed far from the biblical criterion and method. To doubt this is to deny the staggering amount of evidence in the bible." I don't think that Paul's missionary strategy is what we're supposed to embrace. It was a very different time and a very different context. I think in order to be biblical we simply have to embrace the heart of what sharing our faith in our culture means.

4. I think that his call to embrace Paul's missionary strategy contradicts his idea of first evangelization. What is "in and out quickly" means that you haven't stayed long enough for them to be "up until the time they accept the Christian faith and are baptized, or reject Christ and Christianity?"

5. I agree with Josh in thinking that his distinction between evangelization and pastoralization is a helpful distinction though.

6. I like his statement, "Missions belong to the missionaries. Christian communities belong to the people; indeed, they are the people."

7. Brian I like and completely agree with all three of your points. (Well, except for trying to think about combining spam and twinkies . . . yuk! The only comment I have is found in your first point. "The gospel is found "in the very context and culture that we find ourselves." Again, I agree. But what I was saying in my first point is just that it's not because of or through but in our culture that God speaks.

Josh said...

Kevin, in response to your number 3.

You said that Paul's mission isn't our mission...or something like that...his strategy isn't our strategy.

I agree. But I think there are some elements we can grab from his strategy and stuff.

1. You're going to have places that fail. Think Corinth with me.

2. you're going to have places that explode. think Ephesus with me.

3. It's good to develop leaders and let them lead. I like the idea of coming in and quickly looking for the people who can carry out and express the message of the gospel in their local context.

Some questions I have about Paul. Did he know every culture that he was engaged in? Was the Roman world so uniform that you would find the same thing every place that you went?

PS I skipped forward to the letter written by his sister, and she said that he had the hardest time distinguishing between pastoral and evangelistic work in his own life...I wonder if there needs to be a distinction...

Brian said...

Dave, yes, but only if you promise to eat twinkies and spam (although not recommended together).

Kevin, I think I'm seeing your distinction between culture and God within culture. I do think its a difficult distinction to make and one that we have erred to often on.

Where in this conversation on Paul should we bring up the whole, "some called to be... and some to be..." business?