As Paradigm for Christianity and Cultures

A mosaic of Pentecost, the event in Acts 2 when the Lord Jesus sent his Spirit, and caused his disciples to speak in the tongues of the world.  Photo credit:  music4life, Pixabay. 


pentecost as paradigm for christianity and cultures

The selection of perspectives on church history in this section has been guided by three factors: (1) to demonstrate that Christianity has not been a “white man’s religion”; (2) the study of empire as a recurring motif in Scripture by recent biblical studies scholars; and (3) explorations of biblical Christian ethics on issues of power and polity, to understand how Christians were faithful to Christ or not.  Christian relational ethics continues a Christian theological anthropology that began with reflection on the human nature of Jesus, and the human experience of biblical Israel.

Messages and Essays on Pentecost as Paradigm for Christianity and Culture

Reflection on the Presidential Election of 2016 (Nov 30, 2016) voiced a concern about how white American evangelicals are turning towards Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church as a model of a state-church partnership, in order to politically oppose Muslims and pro-gay voices.  This continues to unfold.  See Young Turks, Putin Spies Infiltrate Major Christian Organization (The Young Turks, Jan 11, 2019) involving "The Fellowship Foundation" aka "The Family" in Washington DC and the National Prayer Breakfast being a way to work around the State Department. 

White American Evangelical Political Attitudes and Behavior: Explanation and Correctives White American evangelical political attitudes can be characterized by the debate between John Winthrop and Roger Williams, and their respective attitudes towards Native Americans, slavery, fairness, and faith in the civic space.  This is a presentation also explores Scripture and church history to argue that Roger Williams was correct.  Given to the staff of Emmanuel Gospel Center, Apr 18, 2018, as a follow-up to how Christian restorative justice impacts ministry; audio file here

The Role of Jesus in Revolution and the Pursuit of Justice This is an evangelistic message that highlights the Christian-led and Christian-influenced non-violent resistance movements throughout the world in the 20th century.  They show the connections and spiritual vitality of Christian faith under empire or empire-like oppression.

Why Question Atheism from a Political and Moral Perspective? A presentation on how the Enlightenment tradition gave birth to racist liberal democracies on the one hand, and Marxist communism/state-capitalism on the other.  The Enlightenment tried to dethrone Christian faith from political theory and the Christian church from political power.  Thus, the ideology of the individual and the nation-state went to these two extremes, colored by the presumption of cultural, intellectual, and spiritual superiority that Europeans had about themselves.  Protestant heresies, fed by self-imposed Protestant ignorance about the church prior to Luther, and combined with a growing nationalism, accelerated the problem.  Race became the badge of membership in Empire or the token of citizenship in the Nation-State.  Authentic Christianity, therefore, must stress Pentecost (a principled cultural diversity) as the expression of Jesus' new humanity for all humanity.

Human Dignity: Does Every Individual Matter? Science, philosophy, existentialism, other religions, and double-predestination based theologies mean that some human beings do not matter. Only a fully Trinitarian theology with a medical substitutionary atonement can provide an adequate foundation.

God as the Foundation of Human Rights (Genesis 1 - 11) Genesis 1 - 11 was aware of other Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean creation stories, and argued against them, as shown by the literary analysis of these literatures.  Topics of disagreement include:  the value of every human being; the relations of humans and God/gods; the reason for catastrophes like the Flood; the resolution or movement.

Hebrew Messianic Hope as Anti-Imperial Declaration (TBD) This paper will trace the theme of empire through the Old Testament. 

Why Did God Choose a "Chosen People"?  Why Not Just Skip Right to Jesus? Why Israel was a multi-ethnic faith community, and what implications that has, addressed in Part 1. Accusations abound of God being racist by selecting a "chosen people," or expressing favoritism by defending Israel against Egyptians, Canaanites, and others.  This is why a loving God had to have an Israel as a covenant partner as a precursor to Jesus.

Helpful Resources on Pentecost as Paradigm for Christianity & Culture

Epistle to Diognetus (New Advent, 1st - 2nd century), ch.5 displays the early Christian approach to culture, language, and political identity: "For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers."

Randall Nolan, A Mediating Tradition: The Anglican Vocation in Australian Society (Griffith University Ph.D. dissertation, May 2007) gives helpful examples of cultural contextualization and undoing the injustices of colonialism

Akilah Johnson, Chapel Services Test Gordon College's Values (Boston Globe, Feb 24, 2014) a case study of white American resistance to multi-cultural Christianity and mission

Kay Higuera Smith, Jayachitra Lalitha, L. Daniel Hawk, Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations: Global Awakenings in Theology and Praxis (Amazon book, Jul 2014)

Andy Crouch, Gabe Lyons, Culture, Power, and Institutions (Qideas video, 2014)

Ched Myers, Pentecost: Divine Polyculture vs. Imperial Monoculture (Genesis 11 and Acts 2) (Radical Discipleship, May 21, 2015) helpful theology of culture, although historically, empires have a better track record at managing cultural diversity because they tend to be pluralistic, whereas nation-states are more prone towards monoculture

Geoffrey Holsclaw, Is Babel Reversed at Pentecost? (Northern Seminary blog, May 26, 2015) helpful theology of culture

Joseph Pearce, Turning Multiculturalism on its Head (The Imaginative Conservative, Jul 17, 2016) a subsidiarist, localist view of culture which is thoughtful, but still not a Pentecost-driven multiculturalism fueled by a Christ-centered vision of a new humanity for all humanity

Lizzie Stromme, Multiculturalism Creates Divisions and Has No Future in Europe, Blasts Church Leader (Express, Nov 21, 2016) Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill referring to decentered, or unprincipled multiculturalism; it is unclear, however, whether the Russian Orthodox Church leadership is being faithful to the vision of Pentecost or being obedient to the lure of mono-cultural nation-building.  See Sergei Chapnin, A Church of Empire: Why the Russian Church Chose to Bless Empire (First Things, Nov 2015) and Ryan P. Hunter, Analyzing the Transformation of Church-State Relations in Russia from 1987 to 2008 (blog, Dec 1, 2015)

Charles C. Chaput, (Re)Building the Kingdom: Secularism, Christianity, and Cultural Renewal (Witherspoon Institute, May 5, 2017)

Camille Paglia, ‘Hillary Wants Trump to Win Again’ (The Spectator, Dec 4, 2018) says "comparative religion is the true multiculturalism and should be installed as the core curriculum in every undergraduate program. From my perspective as an atheist as well as a career college teacher, secular humanism has been a disastrous failure"

Chase Padusniak, Christianity and Christchurch (Jappers & Janglers | Patheos, Mar 19, 2019) helpful commentary on political discourse outside the U.S.

church and empire: reflections on faithfulness and compromise: topics