All this discussion about the legitimacy of ethnic theology got me to think about how we become Christian in the first place. I realized that our introduction to Jesus is almost always mediated. Not too many Christians today have a Damascus Road experience; we depend on others to tell us the good news of Jesus Christ.
So let’s think about how I met your Jesus:
–> Jesus Christ: The chief cornerstone of our faith, but we have no direct access.
–> Scriptures: This is how we know anything about Jesus, but Scripture has different portraits of Jesus Christ.
–> theologies: We need something to help us make sense of the Scriptures. Theologies are written to draw out themes significant to a particular culture and context. Some voices in Scripture are necessarily magnified, and others muted.
–> churches: When one theology works, we form communities around that understanding of the grand story.
–> me: Because of the compelling story of Jesus Christ, understood through the lens of a particular church, someone at church tells me the good news. And I believe.
Now this sequence gets interesting because our relationship with Jesus does not stay mediated. There is the possibility of a personal relationship with the Saviour of the world (I know this is loaded language, I recognize that vocabulary is not in Scripture, so I acknowledge I’m operating out of a theology– unavoidable).
As we try to stay faithful to Christ and learn more, some of us will begin to feel tension with these different sources. So we hear stories of 1st gen/2nd gen turmoil in ethnic, immigrant churches. We start to wonder how well the theology we’ve inherited fits our community. And we wrestle with how to read Scripture for the called out community today.
I don’t think this is new; I think this is the pattern of church history. The fear is that our resistance is not really part of the movement of the Holy Spirit. I confess that fear, and often think about how things would be so much easier if I just stop questioning and went with the flow.