“What is considered good, sound, orthodox theology is a Western theology that emphasizes a personal relationship with Jesus with its natural and expected antecedent of an individual sanctification…. The critical issues and discussion in theology lean toward understanding issues relevant to individuals and Western sensibilities. …Theologies that speak of a corporate responsibility or call for a social responsibility are given special names like: liberation theology, black theology, minjung theology, feminist theology, etc. In other words, Western theology with its individual focus is considered normative theology, while non-Western theology is theology on the fringes and must be explained as being a theology applicable only in a particular context and to a particular people group. Orthodoxy is determined by the Western value of individualism and an individualized soteriology rather than a broader understanding of the corporate themes that emerge out of scripture. Because theology emerging from a Western, white context is considered normative, it places non-Western theology in an inferior position and elevates Western theology as the standard by which all other theological frameworks and points of view are measured. This bias stifles the theological dialogue between the various cultures. …We end up with a Western, white captivity of theology. Western theology becomes the form that is closest to God.” Soong-Chan Rah
“Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’
‘Surely not, Lord!’ Peter replied.
‘I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.’”
Moving From Head to Heart
- Christianity began in the East and was entirely Jewish. Much of today’s church is Western and Gentile. Imagine the difference in perspective. Has your theology ever been challenged like Peter’s was?
- Many churches in the U.S. are mostly white, suburban, middle-class and led by men. Imagine how unreflected the concerns and problems of people of color, urban and/or poor people might be in such churches. Have you tried listening in your church with the ears of a poor person, a minority or a woman?
- Considering “non-Western theology” as theology “on the fringes” only feeds our tendency towards ego-centricity as individuals and a culture. Do you try to learn from those parts of the world, or from cultures, that are different from yours?
Abba, make me aware of my biases and prejudices, and help me transcend them. Help me know you better as my horizons expand and I think in new ways.
For More: The Next Evangelicalism by Soong-Chan Rah
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“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”