Evangelize like an Arminian

Discussion in 'Evangelism, Missions and the Persecuted Church' started by steadfast7, Dec 2, 2009.

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  1. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    You're right, but my point was simply that Eastern cultures also have blood sacrifice to obtain atonement from the gods. It is a worldwide idea - a corrupted version of what God originally required in Genesis. But the point is that they are familiar with the concept of something else dying in their place to appease a deity.
  2. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    No one said that the emphasis of Arminians and Papists are right ones, and they are by no means exhonerated by their choice of organizing structure, but they do have an emphasis nonetheless. The hints which can be found in scripture are certainly present, but the Reformers did not settle upon the sovereignty or glory of God as core principles through an inductive search through a scriptures, counting the passages and weighing their prominence against other competing themes. It was an active and intentional decision to emphasize these themes and downplay others in light of the battle for doctrine that ensued in their era. In our day, we find their emphases to continue to be the most God-glorifying, soul-satisfying, rationally coherent and biblically faithful - hence our allegiance.

    -----Added 12/3/2009 at 08:39:05 EST-----

    Also, another little fact about contextualization. There are Ethiopian Coptic Christians who do not hold to the Chalcedonian formula of 2 natures in the 1 person of Christ. I'm not sure of the details, but there's something about their language paradigm that makes it utterly unintellible to conceive of something having two natures. It sounds like an issue where they should just shut up and believe, but they're simply unable to. However, their Christianity is by no means heretical. Their formulation and articulation of Christology is such that they do end up making the correct orthodox distinctions about the divinity and humanity of Christ that we have in Chalcedon, while not using the precise language.
  3. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    If Christianity had sprung up more pronounced in the East rather than in the West, the confessions probably would have addressed ancestor worship rather than the Pope being the Antichrist. And as the Church now springs up among many cultures, they may feel a need to draft their own documents rather than adopt the Reformation-era documents. This would not be a bad thing, as long as the core principles of all true confessions are the same.
  4. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Yes, but that doesn't mean the differences between the people who get it wrong and the people who get it right are questions of emphasis.
    Do you have any source for this assertion? The flood of commentaries from Reformed authors certainly indicates a tremendous amount of inductive study being done. While they may have had to defend certain things more than others because they were more attacked, I seriously doubt that you can produce any statement from their writings saying, "We decided to overlook this theme". I agree it probably wasn't so much considering how often Scripture presents a certain theme, but more how Scripture presents it, and in connection to what.
    When you say Biblically faithful, you just gave away your whole previous argument. They are Biblically faithful because they reflect what the Bible actually says. Thus they are not a premanufactured grid imposed on Scripture, but a system that arose from considering Scripture's text and it's good and necessary consequences, comparing that with the exegetical tradition of the church, and doing their best to give solid answers to difficulties of interpretation, disagreements between authorities (including Jewish authorities to the extent of their availability - see for instance Peter Martyr), or the arguments of opponents.
  5. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Good point Pergy. I've read not a few threads that make it seem that the confessions are virtually equal to the scripture in infallibility and authority.

    -----Added 12/3/2009 at 08:56:55 EST-----

    The relationship between text and theology is probably more complex than we can sort out. I agree that the Reformers were thorough biblicists, but the Reformation had already begun when the exegetes began seriously reading and commenting on the Bible afresh. The indictments made by Luther against the church and her doctrine came somewhat concurrently, and somewhat prior to his exegetical conclusions, and Calvin along came some decades later. They had to build the airplane while in mid-flight, as it were. In terms of "leaving out themes", we do see this in Luther's assessment of James' epistle. It didn't lend very much weightage to his argument on justification, thus he named it the "epistle of straw."

    We are now heirs of the work that the Reformers did in laying out the structure and shaping the hermeneutical lens through which we now read scripture. Because of their work, we are able to see the truth clearly and obviously. The context of the Reformation helped to make obvious what what not obvious.
  6. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)


    Research the Coptic churches more. I am not sure if they are sound or not. They might not be your best example.
  7. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    My mistake, they're not Coptic, they're the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC). Steve Strauss wrote a good article in the book, "Globalizing Theology", eds. Craig Ott and Harold Netland, put out by TEDS.

    Basically, to the Tewahedo and their language, the Chalcedonian formula is a masked form of Nestorianism, and so they have felt the need to re-formulate the creed into their own language so as to protect from heresy.
  8. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Just one question. How, exactly, did Luther come to realize the truth of justification by faith? What was his job when that came upon him?

    That still isn't upholding the point you claimed previously.
  9. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Ultimately, the Holy Spirit led him to re-read the text and to revisit the theology of Augustine. His inner turmoil was a pretty big factor as well. Justification by faith was but one breakthrough in Reformed theology. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the systematization of the doctrines of grace came much later, and Luther probably didn't hold to predestination as strongly as the followers of Calvin. We really take our structure from Calvin, not Luther.

    My only point was that dogmatic grids do not rise purely from an inductive search through the scriptures but are heavily influenced by external factors. We can also point to the 4th century Christological controversies that gave rise to the council of Nicea, Nestorianism that led to Ephesus and Chalcedon, liberalism that led to fundamentalism, etc. and nearly all major dogmatic decisions, Emphases are often shaped by the surrounding culture.
  10. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    You missed the point of my question, Dennis. What was Luther doing? What was his job, his role, his task? In what activity was he professionally engaged when he came to understand justification by faith?

    You can point to the same sort of factors in the development of the NT itself - but it is still inspired, infallible, sufficient and perspicacious.
  11. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    He was a professor of theology.

    I anticipate that you will then say that he came to his conclusion through an inductive study of Paul's epistles. While this is true in part, this is not to deny that his personal circumstances did not help him to arrive at this much needed illumination in his life. I don't suppose you're arguing that the impetus for the Reformation is purely exegetical, are you?

    And yes, God's providence was leading these men of God all along.
  12. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    OK. So you can't say that the Reformers created a grid out of thin air and then turned to Scripture to make it line up. A little timeline of Luther is enough to prevent that theory.
    You've acknowledged that their "grid" is Biblically faithful. You've acknowledged that questions of their circumstances can be equally applied to the authors of Scripture, and I assume you agree that this does not relativize the Scriptures; by parity of reasoning, neither does it relativize the Reformed interpretation. (And remember, the meaning of Scripture is Scripture.)

    That should mean that you back down from some of your assertions in the thread. But when you remove what is inconsistent with what you've agreed to, I'm left to wonder what the discussion is about?
  13. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Truth is not relativized by the existence of dogmatic grids, in fact they help us to recognize them as truth.

    I don't think I've backed down from any assertions thus far. My argument is that cultural factors play a role in determining the emphases (the grid) which lead to our theology. As Pergy said, if the Reformation occurred in east Asia, the theology would centre around other matters of concern to that context. If you're arguing that Reformed theology was derived on purely exegetical grounds without the aid and influence of the historical circumstances and culture of the time, it's a very narrow view that I don't think can be substantiated.
  14. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I didn't relate dogmatic grids to relativization - I denied that human situatedness equates to relativization.

    That the situation requries you to focus on certain aspects for polemical purposes does not mean that governs your approach. For instance, in any context, most polemicists are also going to come into contact with pastoral and liturgical concerns. All of these different things drive you (ideally) to Scripture. How you got there may color what you're looking for, and so will influence what you tend to emphasize, but I suspect that any one being faithful in reading Scripture will from time to time be surprised by coming across something he wasn't looking for. So that Scripture is not passive putty in the hands of faithful interpreters, but is itself an active and formative influence in all their concerns.
  15. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)


    Trying to get your OP back on track.

    Your contention seems to be that, either

    (1) the Reformed are less adaptable in missions because they are less likely to contextualize, to be culturally sensitive and to utilize the social sciences in the pursuit of missions.

    Or, is your dispute also that

    (2) the reformed are less zealous in missions?

    NUMBER 1: If your dispute is that the Reformed are less likely to contextualize, to be culturally sensitive and to utilize the social sciences in the pursuit of missions, then these following notes are relevant:

    -Yes, many of the reformed see the abuses of contextualization and this makes them suspicious, for good and bad, of contextualization.

    -Some of the Reformed don't even believe in music. Therefore, I would not expect any of them to approve of my own efforts to fit the Gospel into local musical forms (a contextualizing strategy). The issue then would not be their deficiency in contextualization but in their error of Exclusive Psalmodry, which is another topic. Not many fans of ethno-musicology for worship among the EPers I would guess.

    -Using the Regulative Principle of Worship, some Reformed have frozen worship and disallowed for cultural expressions in their worship. But, the RPW speaks of principles of worship and allows for differing circumstances of worship. Worship can and should look slightly different based on the culture. There are many reformed groups that would agree with me.

    -I have seen some "Reformed" groups try to teach the abstract questions of the Catechism to half-literate tribal groups. It just does not fit. The Reformed groups that I am thinking of have not prioritized learning the indigenous languages but have instead only translated the catechism (even before any Scripture portions) into the trade language in a very exact, literal and abstract way...and the people just cannot understand.

    Narrative teaching lessons and chronological bible-storying works so much better in a tribal context and yet the Reformed in the province where I am at cannot see this due to their feeling that the catechism must be prioritized first and kept literally translated, insead of the lessons being told in story form or local illustrations. But, this group in my province, I hope, is the exception and not the rule.

    -Missionaries coming into missions are given psychological testing. We research people-groups using anthropology and social sciences. On the whole, it is true, some of the Reformed are more suspcious of these practices. I knew one man that was incensed that a missionary society would give him a background check and a psychological test. But, I cannot blame the sending agency - they need to check their people, because the mission field is full of HUGE stressors and some missionaries I know have chronic fatigue and PTSD symptoms from things that they have seen and expereinced on the field.

    --Also, concerning anthropology and the social sciences, I have heard some churches criticize Operation World and the Joshua Project for trying to chop up humanity into ethne. But there are practical reasons, and also theological reasons for trying to see what groups make up the panta ta ethne that we are to reach in Matthew 28. We want to allocate our limited resources in the best way possible, and so studying the peoples of the world is necessary. If we are to go into "all the nations" we need toknow where those nations are located.

    A very good OP to branch off of this thread would, in fact, be the role of anthropology and the social sciences in missions.

    Remember, William Carey's Enquiry (in Section 3) contains a list of all the peoples of the world, the first ethnography or compilation of the ethne of the world...and it was created to serve in missions.

    -Historically, there have been some very poor examples of how the Dutch Reformed have done missions in SE Asia, often due to the missionary arriving on the same boat as the colonial master and the Europeans looking down upon the local Asians. Missions was done from the center of power, often with social rewards, rather than the church spreading among the lowest classes and the poor, as in the ancient church.

    -Also, the union of Church and State kills healthy missions. The Modern Missions Movement was launched largely by those that did not believe or were unconcerned with the union of Church and State (William Carey, Baptist Missionary Society, Baptists in America).

    Here is a summary of this trend from something I wrote in the past (about trends in missions):

    Also, many of the Reformed did away from Voluntary Associations and specialized societies for missions:

    The Reformation did not really do missionary work outside of Europe for over 100 years, though abortive efforts were made to Brazil and Calvin helped plant hundreds of churches in France, which would rightly have been called a mission field at that time. Protestant Europe was just trying to survive, but also there were other factors as well. Going far away was just not in the Protestant mentality until Carey proposed the Voluntary Association, the mission society, to give legs to their missions impulse. The Reformed lagged behind due to lack of Sending Structures for missions.

    Below is something I wrote on this topic:

    Now, if you believe that the Reformed lack the zeal of the Arminians, this might also be true in somewhat rare and isolated cases where hyper-calvinistic tendencies prevail.

    Finally, all that goes for missions in our day is not to be applauded. Research the beliefs and practices of YWAM if you want to be alarmed. I believe many are running ahead who are not sent, and the West is exporting our theological errors to the Third World. However, seeing the errors and the deficiencies of others should not cause us who believe in God's Sovereign Grace to be less zealous, but our churches ought to be sending out 10 times the numbers.

    DENNIS, that is why you should go. And that is why you should study all of these issues very carefully and also seek to only unite and work with a group that teaches a healthy Gospel message.

    -----Added 12/4/2009 at 12:49:14 EST-----


    I don't think Dennis is saying that Scripture is passive putty in the hands of the interpeter, but merely that we interpret Scripture through our own cultural lenses. I do not think Dennis is trying to relativize Scripture. We read Scriptures as Westerners, Easterners, etc, and this causes us to emphasize certain things. For instance, in the West religion has become very privatized and individual whereas the Scripture seems to prefer corporate worship and community over isolation...and yet, that was hard for me to see until I left the US and interacted with Asians. Sometimes culture causes us to have blindspots.
  16. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I haven't read this thread. I wouldn't advise "evangelising like an Arminian" if that involves "altar calls" , encouraging people to read some rote "sinner's prayer", etc, etc.

    If the Spirit's working He'll give people something to pray.

    We don't want the Church filled with the unconverted, who think they're saved because they "went forward" or repeated a prayer.

    Where do we read of Paul and the other Apostles using such "techniques"?

    We'd all love to have a technique for getting people saved but once the Word is preached/spoken/delivered salvation and assurance of salvation should be left in the hands of God.

    We don't read of arm-twisting and mind-twisting techniques in the NT.

    Such techniques sometimes coincide with genuine conversions, but overall they do more harm than good.
  17. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    We are not talking about altar calls I don't think.
  18. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    No, and I didn't say that he was; but he's made specific claims and provided specific examples, which fall apart when pressed and whose implications go beyond what he appears willing to affirm. Hence the effort to promote a critical review of those assertions, examples and implications so that the point can be made in a chastened, defensible, accurate way.
  19. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)



    You spoke of "human situatedness." How might human situatedness affect local communities of believers as they look at Scripture?
  20. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    For instance, if believers are undergoing intense persecution, they may temporarily focus more on the "enemies" and "suffering" texts and aspects of Scripture. But focussing on those, if they are able to engage in any sort of detailed Bible study, will lead them into a nexus where they also have to consider issues of divine righteousness and of sin, and that will take them to the Cross. So they may have started from the ungodly arising to eat their flesh, but if they are actually studying Scripture they won't be able to stop there.
  21. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    So, it sounds like you and Dennis are saying close to the same thing; that we interpret Scripture to some degree through our cultural lenses. Our human situatedness influences what we emphasize in our theology. I do agree that we must consult with the historic church and what the church in other parts of the world are doing to gauge as to whether or not we have a right interpretation of Scripture (even with our own local emphasies) or are merely over-focusing on our local situations and not giving heed to the "whole counsel of God."

    Hence, the Reformation era confessions focus on the Pope as Antichrist and leave out ancestor worship. The Reformation-era Confessions were forged in the controversies of that time and thus reflect those controversies. And even now, culture impacts how we read Scripture. We focus on guilt whereas many cultures focus on shame. In the USA, worship was become private and individual and in the East there is still more of a communal sense.

    Though "metaphor" is maybe not the best term for this, there is a truth in that our culture exerts a huge influence in our theologizing and you will never be able to get to an a-cultural theology. A cultural "lens" might be a better way of expressing this dynamic.

    Thus, there are twin dangers: (1) The danger is over-contextualizing and letting the culture rule the reading of the text as eras and times change, and thus throwing out the witness of the historical church and exchanging it for the latest fads,and (2) trying to freeze theology and reading all theology through this frozen grid (i.e., through the lens of Reformation-era Western European theologians) to the exclusion of newer and non-Western voices.

    Also, if Dennis is preparing for missions work in a cross-cultural context, we would expect him to emphasize the contextualizing aspect, whereas many western churches try to artificially freeze the grid and export western forms (which they mistakenly think are "Biblical forms").

    An example of how culture influences our reading of Scripture: I just went to a church that is outside of the US. When I was greeted at the church, I was greeted by several of the women with kisses on my cheek. This really struck me odd. My first inclination was to find fault with it; but perhaps they are being more literal to the NT reading than I am used to being (when I apply the "holy kiss" to merely a "warm greeting"). This was an example of how much of a child of my own culture that I am.

    Sometimes, it is true that more conservative churches are more firm in practices and less likely to change. And many of the Reformed are more conservative. Thus, it appears that more of the Reformed are less willing to practice contextualization (both healthy and unhealthy forms) and also there is greater suspicion of anthropology and the social sciences than those groups that are not as biblical conservative.

    It is, again, however, not merely a Calvy-Arminian thing, for Fundy Arminian Baptists are also suspicious of contextualization and anthropology and social sciences, and the Fundy-Arminian Baptists are some of the worst for exporting a Western cookie-cutter Gospel overseas.
  22. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am sorry, but I disagree with this statement. I believe theology, which is the study of the revelation of Immutable God, and the preaching of the Everlasting Gospel, transcends any and all eras and cultures.

    Especially now in these latter days since the incarnation of God the Son.

    For "There is one body (church) and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling. . one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Ephesians 4:4-6

    I may be naive, but I thought the purpose of the confessions and creeds was meant to "freeze" and protect sound theology from error and heretical assaults.

    If a new doctrine arises or a non-Western interpretation of the gospel becomes the accepted norm, then the belief that there is objective truth, and only one truth, provided to man by the revelation of God . . . is in danger of being lost.

    This could easily become a slippery slope that causes a drift of the visible churchs into a Post-Modern mindset where truth becomes relative and subjective; and sound theology is abandoned altogether.

    I would rather theology be frozen, than abandoned to corruption and rot.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2009
  23. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I would think that to be a missionary it would be superlatively important to be grounded in the truth and be able to distinguish metaphors from themes, and so forth. To take the instance of translation, naturally, you must be versed in the target language, or you get this:


    "Third-like explosion" does not convey much meaning about what you are ordering.

    But without a solid grasp of the original you get results like "the lobster shall be a load" instead of la langosta será una carga, which though correct by the dictionary should have come out to, "a grasshopper will be a burden". You can't mess with your original and come to an accurate translation, no matter how well you understand the target language.

    And that is where the difficulty I was having with Dennis' arguments comes into play. We can leave questions of history aside, as they were merely examples, I think. But a given starting point from which to interpret Scripture does not make the theology arising from it suspect or localized. If the exegesis is done well, it will hold true in 13th century Spain or in 8th century Australia. And so it is not the case that you can come to Japan or an Amazon tribe and start from scratch and ignore what the Church has already done. So while you might start at a different place, you will go on to expand their horizons and teach them as best as you can the full spectrum of Biblical revelation. In other words, to take one example, substitution is not an optional part of Christian doctrine; at some point it has to be set out and explained. That is at the root of a lot of my discomfort with the way these discussions are sometimes carried out: you have a deposit of truth, as a missionary, that you are responsible for transmitting whole and entire. We are not free to pick and choose among the parts of the deposit what suits us best or sounds most meaningful: we are free to start with people where is most convenient for them, but we are not free to stop there. It would not have been acceptable for Timothy to transmit Paul's hamartiology and not his eschatology.
  24. Josiah

    Josiah Puritan Board Senior

    I couldnt disagree more. Ask the average Seattle'ite(Scroll down and view any article), who is typically very liberal, what they think of Mars Hill's attempts at contextualization and I am sure that you would be dissapointed.
  25. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Yes, totally agreed. We must be grounded in the originals as we strive to transmit truth across strange and varied cultural contexts.

    -----Added 12/4/2009 at 07:41:45 EST-----

    I suppose you have arrived and are totally unaffected by your culture and background then.
  26. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore


    I have been saved by the grace of God and unconditionally elected, justified, and eternally sanctified in His Son.

    Is that the "arrival" you refer to?

    My cultural background played no part in my conversion and my being brought into spiritual union with Jesus Christ.

    The Holy Word of God (Gospel of Grace), which is the absolute truth, saved my soul, despite my sorry background.
  27. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I've been mulling over this cultural lens issue and I have become increasingly bothered by the assumption, by some, that forensic justification is a "Western" concept.

    First, I fully understand that we need to be aware of our cultural and theological biases when we read the text but that is a far cry from assuming that a Confession written in England that purports to summarize the main headings of Scriptural doctrine is by definition "Western".

    Quite frankly, this smacks to me of post-modern notions of philosophy where everything is seen as a power play and each community forces its interpretation upon a written document. White Europeans are, by definition, White Europeans and their Confessional understanding of the Scriptures says little to Asian cultures that need not be bound in the least by the theological formulations that have taken over a millenia to develop.

    It ignores the fact that the Confessions are based, in large measure, on Creeds that were catholic and neither Western nor Eastern.

    It ignores the Providential blessing of God Who gave the Scriptures to men.

    It smacks of modernistic arrogance that assumes that these Western White men simply foisted their culture upon the Scriptures and doesn't do justice to the very counter-cultural ideas that went very much against the tide of the day.

    It ignores the illumination of the Holy Spirit to the Church.

    Finally, a note on "culture" in general and translation.

    I'm increasingly convinced that many people don't understand how much "vocabulary", both in terms of ideas and words, that the West has that owes to the Scriptures. There is a reason why Westerners have a linear and not a cyclical view of history. There is a reason why the idea of "person" emerged in the West. It's not to the credit and brilliance of men but the grace of a revealing God whose revelation is the fount of all human knowledge.

    We are naive to believe that every thought in Scripture has a corresponding vocabulary or even pattern of thinking in another culture. We err in "mistranslating" an idea simply because another culture has no word for it or concept for it. That's what the Church exists for such that, given time invested and generational commitment, people might turn from the darkness to the light.

    Do we think too much like humanists to think that categories of thinking are naturally built into the brain?
    Is it even a sign of our "Western arrogance" that takes credit for Biblical modes of thinking forgetting to thank God that we live in a culture that has language and ideas for certain things thanks to the blood and toil of Saints upon whose shoulders we are ingrates?
    Is it further a sign of our Western arrogance and forgetting of the fallen state of men that we don't remember that Sin has profound affects on the mind of man and that cultures are bound up in Sin?

    The solution is not to make other cultures "Western" but it is to remember that there is no neutral culture. I've ministered to Asian cultures and men are still fallen. They have conceptions for things that differ but don't tell me that forensic justification is a Western obsession that a man in the Far East can't get because I can "name names" of men who will testify to the contrary. They will also testify to the Truth that this is most central to them even though they once had other concerns.

    If there is neither Jew nor Greek with respect to the Gospel then there is neither American nor Filipino or Japanese or Chinese. There is not one Gospel for one and another for the other. Let's give God's Providence in the forming of His Church a little credit and knock off the post-modern gobbly gook.

    If we really believe that Western Confessions are culturally bound then we believe that no minister can possibly exegete and communicate the Scriptures. Do you really believe that every Pastor in the West that gets up into the pulpit tomorrow AM is going to simply parrot Western ideas and have no capacity, even with the aid of original languages, training, and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, to communicate the meaning of the passage of Scripture to you?

    If so, I suggest you stay home because we're all doomed if the Scriptures can't be communicated across culture.
  28. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Forensic justification is not a "Western Concept." It is a Biblical one. But it took the events that happened during the Reformation for us to see this Biblical truth more clearly.

    -----Added 12/5/2009 at 01:32:54 EST-----

    I do not disagree with anything you have said.

    I do hope, however, that you are all for getting the Scriptures into the vernacular - which requires that we learn the languages/cultures of others as we apply eternal truth.

    I also hope that you realize that some truths are harder or easier to see because of our cultural lenses and, as Ruben says, our "human situatedness." I think (I hope) this was, perhaps, what Dennis was driving at.
  29. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Cultural subjectivity is just as much of an error as individual subjectivity in the understanding of God's Word.
  30. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Yes, I understand that we need to learn the languages and cultures of others. What I'm reading, however, is that "Western" concerns gave rise to Creedal and Confessional formulations and I think that those who state such ought to consider whether or not it is the poison of "Western" structuralism or deconstructionism that gives rise to this idea. It parrots the idea that history is simply written by men. In other words, here is the natural extension of some of the logic that I'm concerned with:

    White men wrote a Confession that reflects upon the history of Creedal formulations as well as the historical outworking of the Scirptures in their times. BUT:
    -What do white men have to say to Eastern men?
    -What do white men have to say to feminist theology?
    - What do white men have to say to Black liberation theology?

    Theology is, in many ways, history. It's the way it's communicated in the Scriptures and the Providential outworking of the Church in history is not simply the "power play" of Western men to co-opt and decide what's important. It assumes a very small God and too much of men.

    I believe we need to learn other cultures: not only so that we don't offend by those things in our own attitudes that are culturally bound but also so we know where to begin in re-shaping idolatrous patterns of thinking that have enslaved people for centuries.

    That said, let's not act like the liberals and try to arrive at the "kernels of Truth" underneath the husk of men's historical labors and cultural blindness. If we throw off the shackles of such thinking, we just might learn from the historical development of some theology and learn even more that would benefit the Church wherever the Gospel bearer trods.
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