Monday, February 05, 2007

Western White Captivity of the Christian Church

On January 29, Soong-Chan Rah, the Milton B. Engebretson Assistant Professor of Church Growth & Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary, spoke at Wheaton College's chapel service.

The title of his talk was "White Privilege," and out of Acts 15 he diagnosed the critical issue for the (evangelical) church -- western white captivity. Citing the demographic changes afoot in America and in the Christian church as a whole, Rah issued a critical wake-up call to those slumbering in the warm, cozy caves of Euro-American whiteness.

According to Rah, this white western captivity shows up in areas areas of biblical interpretation and understandings of the self and society, and thus, to borrow a phrase from Cornel West, adopt the "normative gaze" of white Euro-American culture.

The essence of the Christian message, Rah argued, is about reconciliation, restoration, and unity; the Cross reconciles division, restores dis-union, a draws all peoples together.

Listen here.

At his Xanga site Rah also mentions this about Urbana 2006:

"Easily, the most impressive talk I heard was by Pastor Oscar Muriu. Amazing. This talk is long, long overdue at a major mission conference. It's way past time to realize that "missions" in the 21st century is more likely to be the Christian South/East (i.e. Asia, Africa and Latin America) evangelizing the "mission field" of Europe and North America."

Rah then offers two quotes from Muriu:

1. "To drink from the cup of Western theology is to drink from a poisoned chalice."

2. "The African church knows that it needs the American church. How does the church in North America need the African church?"

Listen to Oscar Muriu's talk here. He is the pastor of Nairobi Chapel in Kenya.

I wish I heard more messages like this. I'm listening....

2 comments:

Paul Grant said...

As the editor for Urbana 06's website - and a hobby historian for Urbana, I offer this observation on Muriu: It was an important message, easily the highlight of the convention, but far from a brand-new message.

In fact, Muriu was building off 60 years of similar missiology, not the least of which has been presented at Urbana conventions. Urbana 67's theme was "All Nations to All Nations"; that was forty years ago.

Muriu's most important contribution was the insight that maturity is not marked by national independence, but by interdependence.

Furthermore, his comment on poison chalice was plain wrong. Western theology is not poisonous—it’s incomplete. We indeed need Africans, and Koreans etc. But it will not serve us to simply call Western theology poisonous.

Anonymous said...

I listened to the talk Oscar gave and his comment about the poisoned chalise was a question not a statement of fact so taking it out of context changes the meaning entirely. I would agree that it is untrue if it was an opinion but it isn't.

If this message has been around for 60 years or so why hasn't it changed the nature of the western church's engagement with 'the rest'?