Wednesday, March 14, 2007

From East and South to the West and Back Again:
A Brief Reflection of the World-Christian Movement

All Christians at all times and all places--in other words, catholic types--claim to stand on the shoulders of such greats as Augustine, Tertullian and Cyprian (among others). But these men were unlike most of us in one very important way: All of them were from a Roman province known as Africa, what is now roughly modern Tunisia. Out of the five early patriarchates, only Rome's see was in the West. That means that the "center" of the church was located firmly in the East and South! Moreover, the catholic doctrines that we all hold dear were primarily the work of such "Eastern" and "Southern" minds. Furthermore, the monastic movement owes itself to Egypt. So what, you ask?

If the current forecast is current and the trajectory is set, that the major growth that the church can expect over the next century or two is located in Asia, Africa and South America, then this question arises: Is the Western church, namely North America and England, prepared to listen to the voice of the "Christian majority?" Or, will the Western church continue in its paternalistic-narcissistic claim to have the all the answers to all the questions that have ever been asked and will soon be asked? Hmmmm...let me guess.

Tonight I leave for Sao Paolo, Brazil for the executive committee meeting of the World Reformed Fellowship (WRF). The WRF is a free association of denominations, churches, organizations, ministers and lay people from around the world that seek to share resources with each other and see the gospel do what it promises: to renew all things!

My prayer is this: as the church grows in places that are foreign to us, that we (Western Christians) would not only seek to give what we have to those who have less and need more, but that we would also listen to the voice of the global church, that is, to our Eastern and Southern sisters and brothers that surely have a lot to say about the Jesus Christ, the gospel and the scriptures. I'm sure that they'll bring fresh insights about all of this to us!

1 comment:

Jeff and Jodie said...


I thoroughly enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work.