Monday, July 21, 2008

Lamin Sanneh on expansion of Christianiy

In the 70's prophets of doom predicted that Christianity will experience a steady decline and its adherents would be greatly reduced. This is confounded with the resurgence of Islam. This fact seems to put the nail in the coffin.

However, by the year 2002 the continuous growth of Christianity in Asia and Africa come as a surprise to many. It could not be denied though that a decline is happening in its counterpart in the West.

According to Lamin Sanneh, “it had become clear that a major expansion of Christianity had been under way in Asia and Africa in spite of prevailing pessimism. In Africa in 1985, there were about 16,500 conversions a day. In the same period, some 4,300 people were leaving the church on daily basis in Europe and North America.

Many people, however, are skeptical about this growth not only because this comes from Africa but also because many Christians believe that these African Christians have abandoned the Christian exlucivism and instead become tolerant and inclusivist.

Nonetheless, the facts of the expansion of Christianity cannot be disputed. Lamin Sanneh offers an explanation and cites four major factors.

First, the expansion happened after the era of colonialism and during the period of national awakening. It can be assume that colonialism is a big hindrance to the growth of Christianity.

Second is the result of the Bible translations in local languages, in this case African languages. With the vernacular translation went cultural renewal that encouraged Africans to view Christianity in favorable light.

Third is that the locals stepped forward to lead the church. Young people especially women, were given a role in the church.

The last factor is a theological one: “Christian expansion was virtually limited to those societies whose people had preserved the indigenous name for God. That was a surprising discovery, because of the general feeling that Christianity was incompatible with the indigenous ideas of religion.”

Friday, July 11, 2008

Centrist evangelical

Most of the missionaries I work with, I reckoned are fundamentalist, in the sense that they hold to the essential fundamentals of the Christian faith. I admire and love them for that. Except that sometimes, I could not help but feel bad when we have the tendency to looked down on other Christians because they believe differently from them in some issues.

I have to meet yet a liberal in the true sense of the world. Liberal after the mold of Albert Schweitzer or John Spong. Today, people like them would not be sent by any denominational mission agency because of their "bad theology." But of course, they can always go on their own.

I meet a few who can be classified as moderates and progressive. But to most people who don't know the what theological liberalism is all about, they are easily classified as one.

Bloesch statements is a good reminder that we don't have to remain in both extreme sides of the balance.
My theological stance could be designated as centrist evangelical in the sense of remaining in continuity with the message of Holy Scripture and the wisdom of scared tradition. Being centrist must not be confused with taking the middle road between fundamentalism and liberalism. It embraces the truth in both camps and negates the untruth in these positions as well. Being a centrist evangelical means building upon the center or core of faith--the gospel of God's reconciling act in Jesus Christ attested in Holy Scripture and clarified by the fathers and teachers of the faith through the ages. But whereas the fathers and teachers are fallible, the Word of God in Holy Scripture is infallible. Yet this Word is not in propositional formula at human disposal but the reaching out of the hand of God upon the human heart and conscience.

Donald G. Bloesch, God the Almighty: Power, Wisdom, Holiness, Love. Down Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, p 12.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Year two and thanks to Ben!

This month, this blog turns two. I would say that the best thing that happened to this it being linked to Faith & Theology and it resulted to being linked to other theology blogs and actually visited by more readers. For some time this blog was also linked by Jim when I was still have the time and energy to write sensible posts.

Interestingly, this blog is linked with other from missionary blogs. Some of them became our friends and one of them; Jonathan actually came to work with us after learning about our location and ministry from this blog. He is still here teaching in the Bible School and doing street evangelism.

Ben has done something special not only to this blog but also to me personally. His friendly appeal solicited incredible response that I now have a good collection in my library. In addition, Megan (our fellow missionary who went home to the States last July) left her bookcase to us upon when she saw those good books.

A “passing post” about a need for a spare laptop after I had a disastrous computer crashes. I admit I have not recovered emotionally since then after losing half of my dissertation. However, the good news is somebody gave me a PowerBook G4 Mac Laptop. My theology professor in the seminary sent it to me. The laptop which apparently was donated by somebody whom I don’t know personally. I don’t even have an idea if that person is reading F&T but just the same I feel I need to thank Ben for that.

Reconnected and it feels so good!

Our Internet was reconnected last week (support money finally came). I might be able to post more regularly now. However, our hands are still full preparing the facilities for the Bible School. We hope to start classes on second week of August. YWAM (Youth With A Mission) volunteers are helping us in painting the dormitories. Four of the students from Myanmar came to help. Three of them are staying in our house.

The children’s home is ready to be occupied. We are praying for 8 children that God will give to us. We still need a lot of furniture like beds, tables, chairs and if possible a couch. The house is still bare at the moment but we know that God will use people to fill up these needs.

I had been spending a lot of time with my sons lately (one of the benefits of not having Internet). We played a lot of basketball last week. This is not possible to do in the last two weeks because of constant raining.

We are going to Chiang Mai again this month for our visa extension. The visa is costing us a lot of money. Nonetheless, God is proving himself to be the great provider.