Now that the world is dominated by the major religions there is a little prospect of mass conversion taking place as they did in the past. England and Thailand will not become Muslim; Egypt and Pakistan will not become Christian. Missionary work will still continue but at the level of individual conversions, as in the early days of Christian expansion, and the work will increasingly be done by indigenous Christian, Muslim or Buddhist groups. The white European, or American, is too much associated with the days of the empire and colonization for him to establish Christianity in the Sudan, Burma or Pakistan; the citizens of those countries must do it, if anyone can.Cole makes the right observation here. However, I observe that not only missionaries from Europe and America are taking their cultures in Asia. Even Koreans missionaries are transporting the western culture to the mission field when they themselves are Asian. Old habits are hard to break. Missionaries should have a deeper understanding of the local culture and worldview. The difficulties lie not only in bringing western language, hymns and patterns of worship. The missionaries are also enforcing their worldview and pattern of thinking. It is apparent that the local people think differently from the European and American but it doesn't mean it is wrong. Cross-cultural workers think that they are doing the local people a favor by teaching them to think like them. Because when left on their own they will develop a theology that is radically different than the western theology... and that theology more often than not is considered to be a heresy.
In recent years, Christians have also recognized that what they often took from Europe to Africa or elsewhere was not so much Christianity as western culture. They built cathedral in Lahore, or Delhi, like those in Britain. They even encouraged the use of English or Latin as the language of worship and taught European hymns at hymn tunes. The younger churches of Asia and Africa are gradually developing patterns of worship and organization suited to their cultural circumstances, which seem much healthier than the European transplants of the yesteryear. Mission have given way to the rise of what are called indigenous churches. Christian leadership may eventually pass from Europe to these other Christian areas.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Mission according to Owen Cole
I'm reading Owen Cole's Six World Faiths. The reason I'm reading this book is that this is the most useful book for me at the moment. I will post a short review of the book, when when I finish reading it. Meanwhile, I will just post some interesting paragraphs that caught my attention.