Can cross-cultural partnerships deepen our theology?


Timothy C. Tennent has written a book called, Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology (Zondervan, 2007). I am only into chapter one, but I love his perspective. I believe there will be much here that applies to the practice of healthy cross-cultural partnership.

Here is a quote from the preface (page xviii).

We still see the West as the ecclesiastical center of the world, even though the vast majority of Christians in the world today are located elsewhere. What African or Asian Christians are doing and writing seems so marginal to us, and it penetrates our own theological discussions only in a vague, ephemeral way.

We as Westerners continue to vastly overestimate the role of our trained theologians, missionaries, denominations, and mission agencies in the actual task of global evangelism and church planting. We continue to talk about church history in a way that puts Europe in the center, and church history outside the West is reserved for those preparing for the mission field or church historians pursuing specialist studies. We continue to think that our own theological reflections are normative and universally applicable to all people from all cultures. In short, the Western church has not yet fully absorbed how the dramatic shifts in global Christianity are influencing what constitutes normative Christianity. … We must learn to think bigger, listen more, and look at the church from a wider vista.

It seems to me that Dr. Tennent is asking Christian leaders, missionaries, and lay persons from the West to … develop better listening skills … adjust their attitude from assuming a leadership role to a servant-oriented “team player” role … and to broaden their understanding of what God is doing in the world. It’s all very fitting for Christians in the West who are pursuing healthy cross-cultural partnerships.

Could it be that cross-cultural partnerships give us the opportunity to deepen our theology … that is, to deepen our knowledge of God, our ability to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and our maturity as followers of Christ? Could the pursuit of healthy cross-cultural partnerships be that important?

5 comments so far:

Joey Nichols Yeah, I would say it'd be good for newer believers or for soomene who is seriously seeking and wants to know what those Christians believe as he explores the Bible. Josh's writing is really accessible and comes across as honest'. For what it's worth, even as a more seasoned' believer, I find his approach to the subject refreshing, and his illustrations are down to earth.

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By definition, tgloeohy is the rational and systematic study of:a) a particular religion and its influences, andb) the nature of religious truth.Christian tgloeohy is routinely taught at church-sponsored colleges or seminaries (e.g., University of Notre Dame, Dallas Theological Seminary, and many such academic institutions or lesser Bible colleges) as a learned profession acquired by specialized courses in religion (Biblical Langages, Hermeneutics, Christology, Pneumatology, Eschatology, Soteriology, and the like).However, each branch of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Judeo-Christianity, and Judaism-influenced Islam) has its own schools and systems for disseminating their respective religious beliefs, rituals, and teachings.So why do most Christians NOT care about learning the who, what, why, etc., of their religion? Because it's much easier for them to take the word of someone else as to what Christianity believes and teaches, and why it's believed and taught as it is.In short, a vast majority of professing Christians want to know, but they don't want to learn. Heaven forbid that they should have to DO something!References : Consult your preferred dictionary, and ask your church leaders what is taught in their seminaries any why.

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