Sunday, March 20, 2005

Orthodoxy, Praxis, and a Possibility

So, I have a minute or so to reflect this morning before we take off to drive the island. We are going to see the entire west coast that was effected by the tsunami. Saw some photos yesterday that were incredibly disturbing.

At any rate, I have been in several conversations with Peter, the Chinese church-planter who is my age and who is part of a 6-house house-church network. Also I have talked at great length with Chris, the Australian who lives in China as a kind of "missionary consultant" working with a dozen or so companies. Also talking with Mark and Bill from Hawaii and Pastor Suchit.

Many of these people seem thorougly rooted in what I would call orthodox Christianity, really, evangelical Christianity I guess. They preach blood atonement, Jesus is God, saved for heaven, etc. Not that these things are bad, they are just not the same questions and answers I immediately encounter in my life. But it did get me thinking about this word "praxis" I discovered several months ago. From what I can remember, it means theology that comes about during action. For example, a theology student who lives in a nice area, away from poverty, might not necessarily understand what Jesus means when talking about sheeps/goats or "the least of these". Sure, s/he can theorize about how God works in this situation, but that person's view is not as important as someone who is actually with the poor. Does that make sense?

So, I can see that being here and working with people, that many of them need Jesus. Now, for those of you who have been on this journey with me, you know I would not just throw a phrase like that out anywhere, so please hear what I am saying. The church can try to improve their living conditions, help them in whatever ways they can, but if these people were to understand Jesus' role in this world, things might really change. [I know some of you are shaking your heads saying, "well... yah...", but just bear with me patiently...]

I asked Chris how he separates colonization from missionary work. Tough question. His basic reply was lead them to Jesus and that's it. Get them a Bible, but do not get them commentaries. Help them discover God through Jesus in their own orthodox sort of way. Hmm. Also we talked about cultural buddhism and taoism (since he lives in China) and some of my thoughts regarding how sad it is that much of Christianity has obliterated other peoples' cultural and religious histories to make them embrace the Rome-USA-Christianity that is so prevelant. He shook his head, knowing what I meant.

Chris also used this analogy that I liked: Most people are raised in a tradition that helps them become good, become better, but eventually, they will have to be birthed out of that tradition, leave the womb of that tradition. For him, that tradition that God was calling him out of was Catholicism. I responded that for me, God was calling me out of the womb of Evangelicalism. He said that I was the first person that has said that. I told him that I wouldn't be the last. Such great conversation had. Wow. Praise God.

Who knows where all this goes? I am really getting a bug to move here, but we will have to wait and see how the rest of the week goes. We might try to spend some time in China with Peter and Chris later this year... perhaps even journey with them to Tibet to see how the church is taking shape there. Chris and I agreed that this is an amazing time and a hard time to be alive.

Oh, one more thing he said regarding Christians in America was that they were more in support of their nation that in support of the Church (or really, Jesus). That is, Americans love America... often more than God and the salvation of the world.

Okay, enough for now. Just some thoughts I had wanted to share. Love to you all. Please continue to pray for us connections and good conversation. Wow, so much to be done...


Damien said...

wow, what a great way to put it... a need to be birthed out of the womb of "x."

It's like no matter what we are brought up in, it's just a place holder for something new. Something authentically ours.

Danae said...

stimulating, really. good stuff. i miss you guys. praying that God would very much be a part of your conversations - that you would encourage others and that they would continue to challenge your thinking as well. i'm praying that your time, conversations, and physical assistance would be received as a genuine "coming alongside" that is so often difficult to attain on "short term missions trips." ;) i pray that you will be able to find a technician to fix the boat - and someone who will do it for a fair and reasonable price. and i pray that He would give you peace as you and Holly wrestle through thoughts about your future and Thailand.
love you both...

Anonymous said...

". . . how sad it is that much of Christianity has obliterated other peoples' cultural . . ."

Ya it's too bad that Christianity obliterated cannibalism in Indo.

Who cares about other peoples culture. It's mostly bad anyway, or is it just American culture that's bad and needs to be obliterated? That's it, now I understand.

"I responded that for me, God was calling me out of the womb of Evangelicalism."

You aren't the first, sorry. You're just a New Age Hindu. Lots of "Christians" have turned to New Age Hinduism, so you certainly wont be the last.