Excerpt from ‘A Conflict of Cultures’, the Review of: China and the Christian Impact: A Conflict of Cultures Jacques Gernet – Cambridge University Press, 1985, by J.S. Cummins: Translating and closely analysing contemporary Chinese material, Gernet show that it was not merely clerical squabbles, doctrines, rituals or customs which separated missionary and potential convert. The twain were unable to meet because their respective world-pictures differed radically: the Chinese mind-set, for instance, rooted in concepts from the Sino-Tibetan family of languages, found literally inconceivable Christian ideas evolved from the Graeco-Roman- Judaic-Scholastic mental world. And vice versa. The literati, by and large … Continue reading China and the Christian Impact
I have always wondered how some of the Christmas traditions came into being. Hence I was pleasantly surprise to find a good piece of article in the in-flight magazine of AirAsia which explains the origin of some of the Christmas practices. The following is a selected list of answers I get from the article: The Christmas Wreath: Christmas or Advent wreath appeared only in the 16th century – being circular shape to represent God who has no beginning and no end, and the evergreen used to decorate signifies the everlasting life which Jesus brought to His believers. The Nativity Scene: Introduced … Continue reading Christmas Traditions
‘A private truth for a limited circle of believers is no truth at all. Even the most devout faith will sooner or later falter and fail unless those who hold it are willing to bring it into public debate and to test it against experience in every area of life. If the Christian faith about the source and goal of human life is to be denied access to the human realm, where decisions are made on the great issues of the common life, then it cannot in the long run survive even as an option for a minority.’ Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness … Continue reading Private Truth = No Truth At All
My previous review on Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices highlighted the need for works like this to be aware of the cultural context of the historical period involved before making any judgement. One of the mistakes in which ‘Pagan Christianity’ made is to draw conclusion on the effect of the revivalist movement in the 18-19th century America without providing a balanced view. Viola mentioned in ‘Pagan Christianity’ that ‘Frontier-revivalist’ movement has contributed to the emergence and acceptance of individualism within the church. In his own words, ‘the goal of the Frontier-Revivalists was to bring individual sinners … Continue reading Revivalism = Pagan Christianity?
Ben Witherington shared Howard Snyder’s review on Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices by Frank Viola here. I find Snyder’s review helpful . He pointed out that there are three approaches to church history: 1. the “traditional orthodox” approach, 2.the “secret history of the faithful remnant” theory and 3. the “renewal movement view.” Snyder mentioned John Wesley’s renewal attempt within the Anglican church as an example of the ‘renewal movement’, which he sees as the preferred solution compared to the ‘secret history of the faithful remnant’, which Viola prefers, where the institutional church is often regarded as corrupted and … Continue reading Institutional Church = Pagan Christianity?
From my previous blog: One of many books that I value highly is ‘Made to Stick’ by Chip and Dan Heath. You can find its excerpts here. They were also interviewed in the 2009 Global Leadership Summit organized by Willow Creek Community Church. Their idea matches the format of the Revivalists in the nineteenth century America, where concreteness, emotion, stories and to a certain extent, unexpectedness played a part in shaping the ‘new measures’ of revivalism. A particular case would be Lorenzo ‘Crazy’ Dow who delights in unexpectedness. Applied to preaching, this can be used to distinguish a revivalist from … Continue reading Made to Stick
When Stearns wrote about waiving goodbye to Christian America and saying hello to true Christianity I cannot help but to reflect on whether we can separate symbols and belief. Stearns’ arguments have their merits. Surely, nominal Christianity has always been the opposite of authentic Christianity, and as America now actually moves out of it one may naturally think that the time has come for people to finally consider the Christian faith without needing to be conversant to its symbols. However, things may not be as straight-forward as it seems. Firstly, as Christian America converts into Secular America, new symbols will … Continue reading Goodbye Symbols?
In an article titled, ‘Crisis of Faith Statement‘ from Christianity Today, the issue of a certain tension between theologians or biblical scholars and the theological institution or bible colleges was highlighted. Apparently some professors or lecturers of certain theological colleges were having some tough times manoeuvring between freedom of academic expression and adhering to the faith statement of the institution they serve. One example is Michael Pahl, whose new book had caused him his job. After reading Pahl’s basic perspectives on the Genesis Creation account, one could not help but to be more certain that his dismissal is not merely due a … Continue reading Cultural Gap between Theologian and the Institution
I have read a number of Brian McLaren’s works in the past as I did my postgraduate dissertation which includes a research on how Emerging Churches implement the idea of inculturation (interaction between faith and culture). Brian McLaren has been vocal on the need to find new ways for Christians to relate to people from other religions. He has been critical towards the way Christians behave and how the somewhat unnecessary ‘fusion’ of the cultural elements into Christianity has caused problems. By looking back, he sees Christians had been time and again, causing various tensions with others due to their lack … Continue reading From Religious Hostility to Religious Hospitality by Brian McLaren
We do not normally say that we are experiencing ‘cultural clash’. The term has always been associated with ‘bigger issues’ such as the dispute on minaret in Switzerland or the issue of Islamophobia in America after 911 – which not all of us would be involved on a regular basis. Also, in such cases there exists a clear cultural difference between the West and the Islamic cultural. However, cultural clash does happen at smaller scale and between even groups which are traditionally from the same cultural root. For example, as the number of mainland Chinese immigrants increases in Hong Kong and Singapore, … Continue reading Cultural Clash ‘for everyone’!
The church could have escaped persecution by the Roman Empire if it had been content to be treated as a cultus privatus—one of the many forms of personal religion. But it was not. Its affirmation that “Jesus is Lord” implied a public, universal claim that was bound eventually to clash with the cultus publicus of the empire. The Christian mission is thus to act out in the whole life of the whole world the confession that Jesus is Lord of all. Lesslie Newbigin, The Open Secret: Introduction to the Theology of Mission, p. 16–17 Taken from Kingdom Come When the light shines freely one … Continue reading Lesslie Newbigin