Bible and Mission Links 22
I rather like this video about the need for Bible translation worldwide.
Power and Prestige
in a provocative article, David Fitch suggests that students starting seminary in the US have the choice of being a megachurch pastor or a missionary.
Onesimus had come back to life and still asking questions about the way in which Western theology seems to dominate in Africa:
There are very few theology books that appropriately engage African (Ethiopian and Kenyan, in my experience) students. Most are written from a Western perspective and are dealing with western intellectual issues that are remote from and irrelevant to the African churches. Even those written by Africans are written by those who have been trained in Western contexts or with Western assumptions (as most of them have been trained in Western schools). We missionaries are keen on passing on our faith, but we usually end up passing on a theological perspective that may actually impede genuine faith and engagement with the local context here. That may be fine in a Nairobi mega church where everyone is assiduously trying to be Western. But the shortcomings of the African churches across the spectrum can be traced to the mismatch of missionary/Western theology and the realities on the ground.
It is striking to me how our unspoken attitudes in Christian mission today can be similar to those of the Pharisees. In our approach to mission are we subtly (or not so subtly) communicating that the people around us are spiritually poor, and that we have all the answers and are spiritually rich? In an article in the MissionFrontiers journal, Greg Parsons suggests that
Like it or not, perhaps without realizing it, we actually do think we are superior… If we’re honest, we in the English-speaking world feel particularly proud of the massive biblical resources available in our language, some of which is actually helpful. Add to this our emphasis on (and experience in) explaining the Bible and it’s not surprising that people see us as teachers rather than learners. We have all the answers!
While there is certainly a place for teaching in Christian mission and the life of the church, I think we have to be careful of making the same mistake as the Pharisees, who equated knowledge of their teachings with spiritual wealth. I’m not sure exactly what Jesus meant when he said that the poor in spirit were blessed, but maybe he was hinting that his kingdom is more about humbly coming to him, and pointing others to him, than it is about knowing the right answers and feeling in some way superior to those who don’t know this truth.
The fact that the form of worship in urban, suburban, coastal and rural churches shows little if any variation strongly suggests that the matter of worship and culture is a neglected area of Christian thought. If, as seems probable, the practice of worship in our urban churches appears to reflect a culture that is other than urban, then this is an area of Christian living where reformation is required. (305)
Here follows one of the darkest plumbing nightmares I have experienced. It was a Monday as I recall, and the day started simply enough. I did some language analysis and then had a language lesson, made some trips into town for some errands, and was back home by 3:00 and was sitting at my desk working away on language study, when nature called – rather urgently, I recall. I made use of my front bathroom.Before I proceed much further, I must pause to note that I am fortunate to have not one, but two toilets in my house. My colleagues moved into a house that had two Turkish toilets, which are nice porcelain structures that flush, but are missing one crucial feature – a seat. You put your feet on two raised porcelain steps and squat down. When my friends moved into their house, they asked the landlord to fix several broken things and added that they would like to have a sit-down toilet. He replied that he would repair what was broken and paint the place, but that they would have to pay for any “fantasies” (like toilets). Thus, I feel honored to have two fantasies in my house