One of the things Marin responded to was the treatment of Professor Soong-Chan Rah's thoughts and ideas from Rah's book, "The Next Evangelicalism" – that treatment by CT's Managing Editor Mark Galli in this article. Galli quotes from Rah's book, cites it as coming from "(a) leading Asian Evangelical", but doesn't name the book nor properly attribute the quote. Professor Rah's name is not mentioned.
Galli finds himself being called on this, in his post's comment section, as Rah points out in his own post. Galli's defence in his comment response (at 10:48am on Oct 6/09) is to suggest that "careful reader(s) will see how I did this at various points in the article with other prominent people in our movement" – ahh, Grasshopper, the problem is in the eye of the careless beholder. And then Galli plays the C.S. Lewis card. "This is a style of disagreement I've learned from C.S. Lewis …and I think it charitable way to express disagreement..."
That's the ticket. Play the C.S. Lewis card.
Stay tuned here folks. The next time I say something asinine and get called out for it – I'll appeal to that greater authority, C.S. Lewis. But rather than looking to Lewis' Abolition of Man ('cuz I'm not that smart), I'll probably cite Voyage of the Dawn Treader to back my position up. But still, it'll be C.S. Lewis to the defence of my stupidity. I'm good to go.
A Bit More Background
My anger / hackles / ire was (were) raised by these two paragraphs from Galli,
But while acknowledging how firmly enslaved we are, the author repeatedly says things like, "Lessons from the black church or lessons arising out of the theology of suffering can lead to freedom from the Western, white captivity of the church." And in an interview to publicize the book, he says, "In fact, the more diverse we become, Christianity will flourish."
As if the flourishing of church depends on our ability to make it diverse. As if liberation from the thick chains of cultural captivity is had by learning lessons from others. As if blacks, Asians, and Native Americans are not themselves captive to entrenched cultural ideologies. Missing here and in many such worthy efforts is an emphasis on God's power, not human example, to free us from the principalities and powers, and on the good news that it is not we who must build the shalom community but the ones who receive it as gift and promise.
I agree with Rah (as quoted above, I have yet to read his book), rather than Galli. I do this from the perspective of a white male who was ordained in a predominantly African-American church in Pittsburgh – and has had to deal with the sin of my own misguided sense of cultural superiority. I have also spent significant time teaching month long courses in Africa to Africans – where my pale pigmentation makes me numerically part of a minority – but functionally, still part of an elite – primarily because of that pigmentation. My family and I have needed to be intentionally cross-cultural in those situations to break down the historical barriers created by our being part of the paler nation.
It is both the norm and much too easy for the dominant culture to gather together for "church." Of course, all are welcome. Really. Just as long as you stay captive to "our" culture. I am shocked that a white American leader can so blithely state, "As if liberation from the thick chains of cultural captivity is had by learning lessons from others." Apparently not in your case, Mr. Galli. (Perhaps the magazine you edit should be known as Christianity Yesterday. The spirit of C.S. Lewis' writing made me say that. Or maybe it was G.K. Chesterton. Or Evelyn Waugh? Certainly not W.E. Kinnon.)
In St. John's Revelation (5:9), the elders and four living creatures sing a new song that includes, "…with your blood you purchased people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation." May I suggest that that is what the Christian church should look like.
And. From my family's experience. There is something mystical that takes place (I would suggest it is a movement of the Holy Spirit as we are obedient to the Holy Scriptures) when we are intentional in worshipping and living together as people from every tribe, every tongue, every nation, every age group – as we believe and model the belief that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [Gal. 3:28]
Left to our own devices, we will continue the tradition of the Sunday morning church service being the most segregated time of the week.