I came across this article on penal substitution that struck a cord in me. I was especially drawn with the words "penal substitution" and "Asians". The subject matter was interesting as well; penal substitution doesn't work on Asian-Americans/ just plain Asians.
What this article shows is that Asians and Americans have different outlooks on how they view themselves. I think this has to do with context as well as values that each culture inhibits. Americans, or to put it in a general term, westerners have this guilt based complexity. What this means is westerners has this "I am good" concept wired in them. Although this is way too general to state with precision, but westerners are far more confident in their opinions, having a strong self belief in their capabilities, and a general motivation of self improvement.
Asians on the other hand struggle in these things. There is a complexity that looks at themselves as second rate or worse compared to a certain group or people in authority. In this manner Asians tend to shy away from voicing out their opinions or views by fear of rejection and criticism. They have a culture of high respect for authorities, so much so that one is obligated to accept anything or everything a high ranking official or authority figure says. This is what the author of the article calls people in a shame based complex. Again an oversimplification of descriptive projection, but the general understand of the projection is true to my experience of things.
I'm not trying to put up a summary on the article as a whole but just to show how cultural context as well as values also play in how we are to present a faithful projection of biblical teaching on certain doctrines. I am not at all saying that theology is governed only by context and culture but these two things are worth considering when we are in the business of communicating. The scripture has the capacity of being vast enough to capture the imagination of each cultural context. So with the doctrine of atonement for this matter, what we need is a more robust outlook to its meaning, i mean there are four theories that are always mentioned upon which penal substitution always gets the spotlight. To me, every theory 'works'. One does not capture the whole although some would disagree. Like for this article, some cultures might not grasp the message fully following one view. So, since the atonement can't be pinned down, it's theory, why get into all the fuss in just having one view and not use the wide biblical array of expression to capture the minds of a specific culture?
I was motivated to think through atonement because these fellow bloggers have been blogging about it the last few weeks. Check them out.
Discussing the atonement when it is no longer cool
Atonement and the warfare worldview
Penal Substitutionary Atonement
- OIL TOWN, SWK, Malaysia
- 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