Tag Archives: The Next Evangelicalism

Thank You, Azusa Pacific University

With Evangelical Christians beginning to leave behind the false creation pseudo-science of con-artist Ken Ham, and the racist lies about Thomas Jefferson by David Barton, it was only matter of time before politically archconservative organizations would be next.

Azusa Pacific University

Azusa Pacific University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

One such organization, Young Americans for Freedom had their application at Azusa Pacific University rejected, and now Breitbart.com’s conspiracy theorists are crying MARXIST foul. Now, APU is accused of being politically correct and liberal in the name of unity, an affront to its conservative evangelical credentials and identity. Conservative activists call, censorship! censorship! and MARXIST COMMUNIST even when the institution is an evangelical Christian organization. Let’s set the record straight, shall we? First of all, Breitbart.com was founded by an atheist, the late Andrew Breitbart who used religious people to promote his fascist, racist agenda. Breitbart and his friends appeared and work with white nationalists, and proudly worked with John Derbyshire, a man endorsed by Stormfront.

Breitbart.com and its Ayn Rand backing supoorters don’t know poop about church history, and especially about the multi-racial revival that took place on Azusa Street. Maybe they should do some reading up, but I highly doubt it.

I applaud Azusa Pacific University for their decision to celebrate their Pentecostal/Charismatic Christian heritage over and against white supremacy.

Christian University Bans Conservative Student Club: Fox News Radio

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Is The Future of Evangelicalism For Whites Only?

THIS IS ONLY MY PRELUDE, FOR I HAVE TO GET TO WORK IN AN HOUR

I have been thinking over the recent events in evangelicalism the past 2 weeks, from the Farewell Tweet to the Gospel Coalition’s early reviews of Rob Bell’s Love Wins to the emerging church’s defense of Rob Bell, and I have been thinking about the future of evangelicalism as well.

Rachel Held Evans and Scot McKnight both shared their thoughts, and I can see where they are coming from.  But at the same time, both posts were written from privileged standpoints, with a failure to recognize what exactly that privilege might be.

I submitted to you that the emerging church is playing the role of white liberal protestantism in the 1920s, while evangelicalism, the fundamentalists of that time. Well, if these two groups are replaying that history, the persons who get left out, the ones traditionally on the margins, racial minorities get the short end of the stick. This is a battle for the leadership of American Christianity. In this Armageddon which we have seen over and over again, it is white liberal (predominantly male) debating conservative white male leaders. The concerns over which are truly destroying the church, the failure to engage in racial reconciliation as well as overcoming the DESTROYER OF FAMILIES, the Prison-Industrial complex. The Emerging Church/Evangelical divide is what the apostle Paul called a FOOLISH controversy to brother Timothy.

I do sometimes wonder how convenient it is for the Emerging church and conservative Evangelicalism to marginalize the Azusa Street revival movements of last century. It was in that movement, where there was evangelical theology being preached, races being reconciled as God was using people who were poor, who were going through racial segregation and war (the Mexican Civil War) to bring God’s glory, yes God’s glorious presence into the here & now. The suspicion by the Neo-reformed movement and emerging circles have less to do with an opposition to Pentecostal practices and theology (prooftexting, who doesn’t, that’s really the question?) but it is a matter of economic status and bias (I submit). The notion that God could provide a renewal of the church by the power of the Holy Spirit through the bodies of the economically & racially oppressed seems impossible for the bourgeois sensibilities of the emergent and neo-reformed movements.

Cessationism, therefore, is a political doctrine, and a very very convenient one at that. Imagine if the Spirit did move, from the outer edges of our police-statist society, on death row. It could happen. I don’t think however, renewal will be possible from racially segregated portion of Christianity that continues to dismiss the suffering of the disinherited.

I invite you to read Drew Hart’s post on the Evangelical Split.

Drew said it best,

“In the end, neither Piper and his peeps, nor Bell and the boys represent me, and billions of other Christians globally.  We have absolutely no stake in this growing feud (that is just heating up in my opinion). No stake, because for many it still leaves us in the same place (except with fewer tokens) of not being heard or taken seriously, and not being treated with dignity as though we lacked the Imago Dei in us.  It is now more than ever that we need to take our attention off of superstars like Rob Bell and John Piper… and begin learning from those who have been crying out from the margins with a very different gospel.  A gospel that is good news to the poor and oppressed.”

Book Review: Soong-Chan Rah’s Many Colors

I would first like to give a word of thanks to the generosity of Professor Soong-Chan Rah as well as Moody Publishers.

I anticipated and had hope that Dr Rah would do a follow-up to his which I also did a review for. TNE, I would say was more of a prophetic critique of  21st centuryWestern Christianity, and there were many quotes I could use in the future that I believe ring so true, particularly Rah’s analysis of the emerging church.  In comparison, Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church was filled less so with observation and much more so with scholar/pastoral instruction.

The text is divided into three sections, and since I do not want to give any spoilers, since I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in doing multi-cultural & cross-cultural ministry, I will go through a few sections I found interesting.

In part 1, Rah goes over traditional Christian approaches to culture, even mentioning Niebuhr‘s classic Christ & Culture (page 21). He then sets forth to argue the importance of remembering all of history, and not just the triumphant good stories that we like to hear, but also the narratives of sadness and oppression.  In chapter 3, Rah articulates a theological vision of culture, where God’s mission in the world is taken seriously and redeems even the “pagan” traditions of Christmas. Rah argues that one cannot appropriately appreciate culture as something that is just a human construct; we need to see both the sociological and theological merits of each culture, which in his view starts with the doctrine of the Imago Dei.  This I believe is a necessary statement to differentiate Rah’s approach to culture and an anthropologist’s or a sociologist’s.  Without the notion of God gifting all of humanity to be creators of culture, equally and beautifully, we will fall into the trap of sayings like West is Best, East is least (as the video I linked implies.  Racism, Orientalism, and ethnocentrism begin with an anthropomorphic & androcentric view of culture, to the exclusion of the creator.  What makes MLK Jr. a culture creator is that he firmly believed in the divine image in everyone, even his enemies.

In part 2, Rah discusses what a multicultural worldview looks like, as well as what it means to examine power relations between cultural majorities and minorities. Chapter 5 gives insight into the possible paradigms that churches fall into.  Churches have their own culture, and it is up to the congregation to discern what type of culture it has.

Lastly, in part 3, Rah gives some practical advice about ow to achieve a church sensitive to the biblical vision of multi-cultural cooperation and racial reconciliation.

In terms of approach, I see no reason for critique, but maybe a few points of clarification.  First, its never clear what is meant by cross-cultural ministry and why it is different from multiculturalism.

Second, and I think there is potential problem with Rah’s suggestion that Christians come together for telling our stories while being open and letting out our emotions. There is nothing wrong with crying. Real men DO cry. Jesus wept, and so did the Hebrew prophets. However, part of my critique of Howard Thurman’s last chapter in Jesus and the Disinherited, where he describes a proto-Beloved Community, is that he suggest thee is should be a complete erasure of space between the oppressed and their former oppressors. Spatiality is part of the problem, in Thurman’s view. However, I object because people as individuals and communities do need their own space; what needs to happen is that persons should create a negative space within themselves to invite others into their lives. I fear that Rah falls into the same error as Thurman, in that the story telling becomes TMI, or too much information. Persons should reveal themselves by their own choice, but at the same time, persons should remain a mystery without complete disclosure; the more a person remains a mystery, the less likely others will be able to claim possession over you.

Lastly, I do hope that Professor Rah expands upon his third chapter into a book on its own.  Christianity desperately needs a new theology of culture, whereby the Missio Dei and the Imago Dei are interconnected, and I believe Rah is on the right track.

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