My brain never gets a break. We went up this week to a camp up in northern Arizona for a pastors retreat… I foolishly expected that I would get some R & R. Monday we played golf most of the day: I played horrible, but finally turned it on the last two holes. By the time we actually got to the camp I was already torched from the sun and ready to spend a week just chilling. We had three sessions over two days, which alone was brain-frying enough, but also had to sit at tables with people that we didn’t know. Sooooo, between forcing myself to meet people and getting throttled with several provocative talks from a guy from RockHarbor Church that spoke, an all day staff meeting on Wednesday, and reading to get caught up for my three hour Thursday night class, my brain this morning was done.
I sat on the couch for half the day pill-popping tylenol and watching a web show called “The Guild” that Brad let me borrow. ITs about these five people that play an imaginary online game (similar to World of Warcraft). One of the characters in the show ends up getting stalked by a guy who met her in the online game, so she decides to enlist the help of members of her guild to get rid of the guy! Its pretty stupid, but if you know the world of Warcraft lingo, its hysterical…
Anyways, I’m reading a book for my class called “A Christianity Worth Believing” in which the author says that we have to constantly reinvent and re-imagine the Christian faith in order to be faithful in whatever context or culture we find ourselves. He condemns the Greek form of Christianity that Western Europe and eventually America have embraced… forcing people to embrace an Aristotalian, Augustinian Enlightenment rationalistic approach to Christianity rather than allowing it to maintain its original roots in the Hebrew culture and Blah. Blah. Blah. If every message is culturally confined and defined, then why favor one culture (Hebrew) over others (Greek, American)?
The nugget I’m getting from this book is that requiring people to embrace your culture before they embrace your message is unfair, and unbiblical. One of the greatest arguments that arose in the early church was over Jewish and Gentile believers. Jews were trying to make Gentiles become Jews before they became Christians. The Americanized Gospel sometimes does the same thing….forcing people to embrace western American evangelicalism before they embrace the teachings of Jesus. Also that you can’t completely strip away your culture’s influence on your message, but the message can still transcend cultures. The challenge, then, is communicating messages in such a way that they are understandable in the given culture of the intended recipient.