How being Asian American affects theology

Andy Cheung moved to Seattle from Austin and is in the midst of seminary studies at Mars Hill Graduate School. He blogged some thoughts about how being an Asian American could and should affect theology, alluding to how theology is not cultural-neutral [ed.note: emphasis added] —
Andy Cheung
New Perspective

. . . Tied to the dynamics of cultural identity are my understanding of theology and the Church. Being of Asian-American descent, two things have become apparent throughout my coursework: (1) a western perspective dominates our theological conversations and (2) there is a relative lack of Asian-American voices. As a result, I have become increasingly convinced the Church needs to hear the Christian narrative through different cultural lenses. This includes an Asian lens.

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In Class Today: Mosaic Churches

 

Some notes again from my class, “Emerging Models of Church” with Prof. Steve Hayner. Today, we’re discussing Mosaic or intentionally multi-ethnic churches. I’m not going to try transcribing every word like I did last time, but I will be trying to get the high points. Enjoy~

We started today’s class with a viewing of “King of the Hill” looking for a new church (h/t: pomomusings).

Point #1: Everyone is ethnic. And by ethnic we mean:

ethnicity describes the characteristics of our origins – our family, tribe or national identity—our customs and characteristics—our corporate identity as a member of a unique people group.

Culture is one of those weird words. Anyone who has studied anthropology may know how slippery this word is. Some definitions then…

  • Culture: variously defined–all culture participates in both the dignity of humanity created in God’s image AND in the brokenness of humanity.
  • Multiculture: either pluralistic, where each culture contributes to the whole, or particularistic, where concern is to preserve the particular characteristics of each.
  • Multiethnic: consisting of people from various “people groups” (cultural, tribal, national identities = “the ethnos”)
    • Preference not to use the word, race. Race is a 20th century invention that is designed around external characteristics…race is not a good enough indicator of who a person is as is ethnicity.
  • Counterculture: intentionally discerning direction contrary to norm based on faith .If multicultural ministry is not countercultural, it is simply political correctness.

Globalization, tribalization (aka balkanization), immigration are huge phenomenons affecting the world we live in.

John Long, Director of US Census Bureau. By 2040, we can extrapolate these demographic changes:

  • White 54%
  • Black 14%
  • Hispanic 22%
  • Asian 7%
  • Multiracial 2%

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Emerging Models Of Church – Lecture 3 / 3rd Hour

Man, this is a long class…there might be gaps in the notetaking…but I’m doing my best to get as much as I can.

Steve Hayner (cont’d)

Hour 3

one of the big issues, probably generational as much as anything else, is the relationship between Chrsitan faith and other faiths. it would arise occasionally — what about people who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ?

one of the things that emergents have really struggled with, it’s not an exclusivist position, meaning that it is not Jesus is the only way and anyone who doesn’t mention the name of Jesus is going to hell. they say, ‘no, we don’t really see it that way’ but neither do they think that it doesn’t matter. it’s a particular universalist view, but not the universalist view.

emergents think about an inclusive Jesus, a Jesus who died for the whole world, a Jesus who at the same time says, ‘come to me.’ emergents are not eager to walk into conversations where they say all other religions are false. the very fact that people struggle with their faith shows that utimatly these things will come to their conclusion in Jesus Christ.

in “Listening to the beliefs of emerging churches” – these five writers interact and they talk about each other’s chapters. they have quite a lot about Jesus for the global village. there is a very real sense that the portal to faith in the emergent world is that people belong before they believe. they are not likely, especially as people are not likely to wrestle through all of the issues of faith before entering the community. more likely is that they are part of the community first and come to faith. again it is an embodied conversation. it really matters, but you find a lot of consistency about it either.

the patterns of evangelism involve building relationships of trust. because of this sense that we are sent into the world and this emphasis on authenticity, there is this sense that we build friendships. we build friendships with anyone, NOT so that they will become Christian, but because people who are created by God are worthy of friendship. in the context of those friendships, we can talk about faith, we are going to engage it. we are going to listen a lot to one another.

there is also evangelism that is proclamation…evangelism as life, word, deed, and sign. this is holistic in witness involves all of those kinds of things. emergents would not say that it is a bad thing at all to do confrontational evangelism, but that is not their preferred modality, because that’s not the way life works mostly. again, they would point to Jesus’ life. most of Jesus’ interactions were evangelistic in nature, but not necessarily confrontation.

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Emerging Models Of Church – Lecture 3 / 2nd Hour

Steve Hayner (cont’d)

Hour 2

a lot of this so reminds me of kaleidoscopic input. there isnt’ anything systematic about this book (An Emergent Manifesto of Hope). it reminds me about “Wikikklesia“. read more here…

let’s look at a variety of theological pieces here, as kind of a kaleidoscope. these are some places, snapshots of some of the conversations. i’m in a rather long conversation with ed stetzer…but the very fact that you can have these conversations is a remarkable kind of thing….

one piece is that emergent church have a kind of incarnational paradigm about the world. which means, they are neither world-fearing, nor embracing all culture. a world-fearing stance has given rise to the culture wars. the world is a bad place means that if we can’t change it, we need to guard ourselves against it. home schooling and a variety of movements lead to protecting ourselves against it.

another stance is culture-embracing. anything that is out there is good and we embrace it all. that is a stance that religious people have taken.

the emergent people have taken the stance that says we are going to engage the world. this is going to sound very reformed. the emergent world talks about creatively engaging the world. acknowledging that evil does exist and the world is a challenging place. sin is individual and corporate, but God in Jesus, moved into the neighborhood. God took a risk and incarnated. when God came there was an understanding that this was dangerous, there was a war going on, but that change could take place.

it’s not about sacred on the one hand, and secular on the other. it’s about ‘this is my father’s world’, therefore the image of God can be seen in certain ways in the world and in creation itself. and god is in the process of redeeming this world.

secondly, there is a holistic view of salvation. neither salvation as saving souls. there is a whole chunk of the world that talks about salvation as saving souls. the emerging church doesn’t talk much about souls, but about people. neither is salvation as liberating the oppressed.” neither conservatives – souls, or liberal – oppressed. salvation is about a bigger picture, rather healing all that is broken.restoration of God’s kingdom and redeem creation. the fall has more implications than between humanity in God. those who care about salvation, to talk about salvation only in terms of a broken relationship with God, as only alienation with God is that there are other consequences of the fall. in Gen 2-3, other consequences are deprivation, suddenly humanity experiences want – no food, no clothing. the essentials of life become difficult to work with. it’s hard to survive. in addition to that, it’s also a world of oppression. there is a misuse of power….

reconciliation is God’s answer to alienation.

compassion is God’s answer to deprivation

God’s answer to oppression is justice.

salvation is defined in a more holistic way. it’s not just getting people right with God. Not just Jesus saved my soul, we’re done, but until all of creation is done, then we’re not done.

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Live-blogging: Emerging Models of Church Life – Lecture 3 / first hour

Emerging / Emergent / postmodern — all these words have become so loaded in our views of church and individual faith. I have the opportunity to take a class this fall, “Emerging Models of Church Life” that explains some of the new trends taught by Steve Hayner, who was once president of InterVarsity, but now is on faculty at Columbia Theological Seminary.

I got his permission to live-blog today’s lecture (3 hours!) regarding the Emergent movement.  I found it informative and balanced. Hope you find it helpful…

Steve Hayner’s lecture at Columbia Theological:

Hour 1:

An introduction to Emergent Church –

once you sort of get whatever it is in your sights, it’s not there anymore. if something is emerging, we are always in the journey and it is hard to nail it down. it is hard for us, modernists, to put it under the microscope. i get a kick out of watching these various movements and moreso watching others outside the movements. The Christian Century has an article about Jacob’s Well, an emergent church in Kansas City. the author goes to figure out what this thing is and how it is different than and similar to…it’s an interesting article. that’s kind of what we’re about here.

if we really want to understand all this, we’re going to have to hold it all very lightly. today, we’re going to focus in on some of the characteristics of the emergent church. all of what i say is going to require more nuance than I’m willing to give it, but it’s the best we can do…

one of the things to understand, it was probably in the early 90’s, that we began to see appearing various articles related to the effect of postmodernism on the church and churchgoers, particularly on youth. it was not so long ago after that, when we had new experiments. these weren’t the first experiments, but some of what we began to see in the early and mid 90’s a rather wholesale new look at the idea of church.

most of the people who wrote about this movement, wrote about worship styles, things that we were easier to see. and the questions that people were asking were about ‘why does this work’ and ‘why does that work?’ we know it in our presbyterian services as a “contemporary worship services’. not a very helpful description, by the way.

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