Thursday, February 9, 2006

Indigenous Faith...Believing Where You Are

All lasting faith is indigenous. It is birthed inside the language and culture of the tribe or group that embraces it. The names for God and the scriptures must be understandable by the people who God is laying claim upon. This explains while colonialist evangelism never made significant inroads into the two thirds world. There was the assumption that to be Christian was to be Western. It can be seen by the Christian expansion of the last decade into these areas of the world that it was not the message that was being rejected but the means of communicating the message.

In Whose Religion is Christianity, Senneh states, “The indigenous discovery of Christianity, by contrast, describes local people encountering the religion through mother tongue discernment and in the light of people’s own needs and experiences.” (Sanneh, 55) Reading Sanneh with the words from United Methodists bishops serving in the two-thirds world ringing in my ears, the symbiosis of their words was like spiritual stereo. While western Christianity barely holds on to its ever waning base, the two thirds world is exploding as the Word becomes flesh to them in their mother tongue. They are embracing God that can be named and claimed in their own language and embracamidstist the circumstances of their life. The Western church must return to a missional understanding of the faith, embracing an ever deepening understanding of the culture, in order to be able to proclaim the gospel effectively again.

What is the mother tongue of the Barnes and Noble, X-box and internet generation coming of age today. It is certainly not the language of the mid-to late nineteen hundreds. It is more attuned to the language of the first century. They are image driven and desire connections far deeper than their parents. They seek to replace broken families with whole relationships. They are spiritual but not religious, worshipful without an object of worship and seeking but not finding. During the next few days there will be multiple posts regarding the language of the post-modern culture as I journal on discoveries in literature, cultural observation and, of course, movies. How can we get them to understand that they are...

Lost in Grace,

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