Tag Archives: intercultural

How Richard Twiss helped me to believe in revival again

Community Transformation

This post is my second contribution to the MennoNerds Anabaptist Missional Spirituality Synchroblog event.

Before discussing such a dreamy topic as “revival” or what others call “renewal,” I must come clean. Every time I hear or read the word, “revival,” I run and get my gun. Yes me a pacifist who desires to not own any lethal weapons, reach for my imaginary gun. Why you say? Because everytime I hear or read that word “revival” coming from conservative evangelicals, more often than not, its from an imperialist Dominionist point of view. Revival understood in this manner is when Christians are lead by white Conservative (more than likely Reformed) evangelical men, who give minimal head nods to Charismatics and multiculturalism with dreams of hegemonic, violent takeovers of the national culture (Conservative Republican political means). Two examples of this are the Acquire the Fire movement and Methodist but hardly Wesleyan Institute for Religion and Democracy.

As a Baptist Christian, as a continuationist with Charismatic tendencies, I do hope for a Spirit-led, Christ-centered renewal of our national culture in general. As James Cone called for in Black Theology and Black Power, there needs to be an exchange in value systems. See the problem with the popular versions of revival is that they resort back to the days of Jonathan Edwards and Charles Finley, and imagine that God will move the same way. We Christians commemorate these revivalists and year to year go on hoping that revival/renewal will look like it did in the past. We hope for a cycle, we know this only as a cycle that happens naturally. And that’s part of the problem. Revival is about cycles being broken, with the in-breaking of the Holy Spirit arriving anew in fresh and unexpected places, and God’s standards for holiness being revealed in the lives of some of the least ideal persons.

I like what Micael Grenholm has to say about revival, that we can’t separate peace and justice from conversionist modes of religion. Reading through the late Richard Twiss’ One Church Many Tribes: Following Jesus The Way God Made You, I once more found a hope for Christian renewal in the USA. Twiss’ challenge to Evangelical Protestantism is still a much needed word, and his contention that we should start viewing the First Nations as a mutual party when it comes to missions, and that Native culture has something to offer (AND NOT JUST RECEIVE). There is something rather impossible when you read Twiss’ words because what he wrote, we have not yet witnessed with our eyes. While folks talk about revival, relying on things seen, by faith, Twiss taught me once more to believe in revival, the likes we have never seen.

Twiss’ post-colonial vision of widespread renewal reminds me of David Walker’s Appeal in the lone footnote in chapter one:

“It is my solemn belief, that if ever the world becomes Christianized, (which must certainly take place before long) it will be through the means, under God of the blacks, who are now held in wretchedness, and degradation , by the white Christians of the world, who before they learn to do justice to us before our Maker–and be reconciled to us, and reconcile us to them, and by that means have clear consciences before God and man.–Send out missionaries to convert the Heathens, many of whom after they cease worship gods, which neither see nor hear, become ten times more the children of Hell, then ever they were, why what is the reason? Why the reason is obvious,they must learn to do justice at home, before they go into distant lands, to display their charity, Christianity, and benevolence; when they learn to do justice, God will accept their offering, (no man may think that I am against Missionaries for I am not, my object is to see justice done at home, before we go to convert the heathens.) “

For Walker and Twiss, the missional and just YHWH of Hosts requires the righteous fruits of those who have been justified by Christ, and just relations between people groups prior to  worldwide revival, and not vice versa. 

Introducing The Africana Bible: Not A Commentary, but A Folklore

The Africana Bible: Reading Israel’s Scriptures From Africa and the African Diaspora

Logo for WikiProject African Diaspora at :en.

When I first heard of The Africana Bible, my first reaction was, oh, here we go again. What haven’t black scholars already said about Black Interpretation and The Bible. I’ve already read and own Stony the Road We Trod: African American Biblical Interpretation, as well as True To Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary. I really didn’t understand the difference until I read Hugh Page Jr.’s essay, “The Africana Bible: A Rationale.” He sees The Africana Bible “as a work produced by those who function as poets and ‘storytellers’ in academic, church, and other settings” (page 5). In Page Jr.’s eyes, The Africana Bible can be used as a tool that “increases awareness of Black lived experience throughout the world” as well as “enables Black experience today to be viewed from a global perspective” (ibid). The Africana Bible is not a commentary, but a product of Africana expressive culture, as it “blurs the lines between literary prose, critical scholarship, and (at points) poetry” (page 8).

Leslie R. James’ piece, “The African Diaspora as Construct and Lived Experience” traces the history of biblical studies with the histories of oppressions of African peoples during European colonization. For example, European Christianities changed with the work of Albert Schweizer’s The Quest for the Historical Jesus; while Schweitzer seems to give up looking for Christ as a historical figure (within a particular version of European messianism), Frantz Fanon asks us to look for a New Humanity, one that lied outside the realm of Europe, and made available to all peoples in his Wretched of the Earth. Fanon had transformed the subaltern embodied experience of the colonized into a a gateway for universal truth. No, I did not stutter. The label of Africana is diasporic in nature, and we (I as a reader and the writers of this book) this term metaphorically. The allegory of Diaspora opens up the story of the Hebrew Scriptures to Christianities worldwide, and in the U.S. American context, Black Americans have learned true neighborly love, solidarity with the Other, the Israelites of the Bible through Israel’s stories. James contends, “Diaspora has to be perceived as ontological, epistemological, ecumenical, political, and practical” and may I add THEOLOGICAL as well (16)! We know that YHWH is the God of our ancestors, the God of our weary years through the stories of the First Testament, and in our experiences in Diasporic religions.

The multi-authored essay, “African and African Diasporan Hermeneutics: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Journey, Exile, and Life through My/Your Place contends that “Africana biblical hermeneutics are contextual, particular, and powerful” (19). However, Africana biblical interpretation, assuming it is done by Christians, is not rigidly situated and static, enclosed to our Africana communities. Rather, as I have argued with a Trinitarian and Black reading of the Acts of the Trinity, cultural and theological readings of Scripture are reconcilable because of the Trinitarian existence of our God, the Lord Incarnate Jesus the Messiah. Cheryl A. Kirk Duggan begins her portion of this piece, “A trinitarian God-presence and an awareness of the Bible emerged through my daily experiences of family, church, and culture” (21). Did you catch that? Trinitarianism and the concerns for holistic living (a Womanist theological concern) are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they go hand in hand! The multiplicity of ways people engage the Bible with other texts–“in multiple places and spaces”–embolden communities to work for justice and love (22). Kirk-Duggan continues,

“The Pentateuch, or Torah presents creation, sin, liberation, celebration, regulations, injustice, the mystery of God. and the import of faith. Royal histories warn us about messianism, flawed leaders and seductive failures of empires. Unfortunately prophets for justice often demonize women to show Israel/Judah their errors [me-ahem, like Ezekiel]. Wisdom literature, especially the Psalms, provides a liturgical corpus for confession, petition, and thanksgiving.” (page 22)

Africana theological hermeneutics of the First Testament should then include a reading of JUDGES that challenges the seduction of messianic bishops and pastors building empires. Africana theology and biblical scholarship should eventually become a part of the new black theology movement, and become inclusive of Early Christian writers as well. David Tuesday Adamo, in his “The Bible in Twenty-First Century Africa,” points specifically to the Alexandrian Fathers (Clement, Origen, and Athanasius) as Africans who used the Bible to fight oppression (pages 27).

Next up: The Africana Bible, Women, and the Arts.

Enhanced by Zemanta

More Biblical than Mel Gibson's The Passion

Thanks to Polycarp, I found out about a new movie about the life of Christ. What if he came as an African?

Check out the preview for Son of Man!