Engaging across cultural divides

Here’s a question. On the one hand, many Christians speak of the importance of cross-cultural contextualisation of the Christian message. On the other hand, many Americans speak of the culture wars between progressives and conservatives. So, are we acknowledging that these are two different cultures we’re talking about, at least to some degree? What if we brought those two hands together? What does it suggest?

4 thoughts on “Engaging across cultural divides

  1. But the “cross-cultural contextualization” arguments and understandings is complicated to the nth degree by the fact that there are now over 30,000 different Christian denominations, sects and sub-sects, in the world. All of which are essentially businesses, which are to one degree or another fighting each other, and other Faith traditions for their bigger share in the market pie.
    Pie in the stomach rather than pie in the sky!


  2. Yes and no. To some extent the different Christian denominations could be considered the FRUIT of cross-cultural contextualization. Consider, for example, the African independent churches and the Chinese house churches. Shouldn’t the localization of their leadership structures (rather than continuing to hang off the apron strings of western churches) be viewed as evidence of genuine indigenization? I feel you’re interpreting denominationalism altogether too negatively. Yes it can have its down sides, but it also has its up sides, and it’s demonstratively untrue that all Christian denominations are “to one degree or another fighting each other.” Simply track back through this blog you’ll see many Christians from many different Christian denominations engaging in respectful conversation with one another. You’re universalizing something which is not universal. Moreover, your understanding of unity sounds way too bureaucratic and authoritarian to my ears. Bureaucratic uniformity does not guarantee Christian unity, nor is Christian unity impossible without bureaucratic uniformity. I have to wonder if your projecting the authoritarianism of Adi Da onto us? I would wish you’d engage with the actual question John, which is whether conservative missionaries need to communicate in more progressive ways amongst progressive Americans and progressive missionaries need to communicate in more conservative ways amongst conservative Americans. It’s about recognizing our own accents and learning to speak each other’s languages. I don’t think projections are a helpful way to start that.


  3. I tend to find that most those in America who are talking about cross-cultural contextualization are not the same ones that are worried about culture wars, or if they are they mean contextualization in a different sense. Utlimately, I suppose it comes down much to the way that we see Christ engaging with culture. At the least, I’d venture to say American evangelicalism is not as monolithic as it could be assumed or it doesn’t realize the tension between the two ideas.


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