Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Christian mind on Culture, Social and Global issues

I have to admit that talking about social, cultural and global issues are somewhat quite new to me. Particularly because most Christians here (my context) shy away from dealing, probing, discussing, sharing their opinions about these issues. Christians in the Malaysian context on the island of Borneo which is known as East Malaysia have not really presented issues like for example the war in Gaza or the global financial situation in a reflective manner as a form of how Christians should tackle these issues.

Many (now this is my own observation and critique), when addressing issues like this, take the Gaza war for example, simply explain issues like this in terms of eschatology; that is with an End Time perspective. The typical engagement on issues of war is simply to explain that the world is simply getting wicked and wars that we see happening are signs that the end is coming soon. Because of this fact we are to live right for those who are Christians, in the way that we pray regularly, attend Sunday service or Christian programs/events, read our bible faithfully and all the normal Christian disciplines we know about. As or those who have yet made a decision for Jesus, they are encouraged to do so to escape the wrath and untimely death if it so happens so that they can a place in heaven.

I find this typical, something that I have observed about for my experience living here. I simply want to make things clear that I have no affiliation of any kind with a group in describing these matters, but my personal observation. I simply wish that the church would be actively involved in social issues of sorts, speaking their opinions where it mattered and lend a helping hand to society around them. Involvement needs reflections, and a christian one is what I seek the church here to seek.

We have ignored too much the world outside in whom we were and are called to effect, to be salt and light in our context and to the nations. There are many issues that are popping up, and at an increasing level if I might add. Is there a Christian mind ready to engage them? Or is the Christian and the church simply awaiting the heaven bound timetable and simply ignoring the very place where God calls them to be witnesses?

2 comments:

Kurt said...

Interesting observations. I thought that the problem of ignoring social/global needs was mostly an american/West evangelical problem. We have so much here, and yet give so little! This is truly disheartening...

You mention Gaza. Well, most around here would say, "Lets pray for Israel, God's chosen people... Isn't it exciting whats happening there?! It wont ever get better because the bible says that tribulation is coming. The Lord Jesus is soon going to return to rapture his body from this awful place!" I say to these types... you need to re-read your bible...your eschatology is unbiblical and your politics are bluring the picture!

Also, at this time, the trend in the younger generation is to reject that old 'other worldly' or rather 'after life' focus, to notice the needs both locally and globally. Unfortunately, many do not have a clear theology of why this is so important! I am grateful that the church in my country has become more open to the problems of the world, but I wonder how long this trend will last unless we begin to shift our theology across the board (especially on the lay level!). Theology, in my opinion, affects everything. For instance, most Christians that are begining to open themselves up to serve the 'lest of these' do so with an agenda. This is a new 'method' or 'program' that is culturally relevant to the Millenial Generation, that will lure them into accepting the same old individualistic gospel about me and going to heaven when i die.
It sounds to me like the people who brought the gospel to Borneo were fundamentalists. Great that the gospel has been recieved, but now your context may have to go through what mine is: a 2nd conversion from an old, culturally encased ideology.

Tremonti said...

Kurt,

Good thoughts. I do find that some Christians, who ascribe to the idea that Israel is God's chosen people, and whatever they do God is with them regardless. I know that they are the people whom God has chosen and that is true, but as chosen people it does not give them leverage to do whatever they want. It seems to me that the step they took to start all this will backfire and lead to more casualties.

I agree where you say:
"but I wonder how long this trend will last unless we begin to shift our theology across the board (especially on the lay level!)."

There is a challenge now to lay some ground work of communicating this stance of theological thinking...of Christian responsibility in it's cultural, social and global realities. I am somehow wondering that there needs to be some sort of shift in how we learn theology as well. I have systematic theology in mind. I feel that there needs to be a rewriting on this.

There also need to be a restructuring of how the church has always observed how she is to live in this world. When i think of this there is a whole shifting at stake! There is still a lot to be done.

In my context, people here are still adapting themselves to modernization. Sure, we have received this change with open arms but I just feel that the Asians are still grappling with the effects of modernization. I say this because we did not evolve and grow with modernization but Asians, it seems, just adopted it. Because of this Asian nations are still reeling the effects of this adoption. This needs further clarifications but it is something that i am developing at the moment.

On your comment on those who have brought the gospel here, that they were fundamentalist, this is true. But i would just add that they were fundamentalist who were more responsible in balancing social as well as 'after life' aspects of the faith. The only problem with Christians here is them realizing how to move from the movement of how they became christians to how they should then live as christians. This is an echo of what you said : "a 2nd conversion from an old, culturally encased ideology." It is happening but still on a low level. Hopefully things will speed up!

Hopeful Theo

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I'm a student of Theology (currently and will always be one). I'm a student of culture and a student of music as well. I guess you could say life is a never ending journey of learning. Because of that we never stop being students. Just a little something about this blog: Deconstructing The Monkey is all about being a safe space for emerging conversations