This past summer I got to read CoffeeHouse Theology: Reflecting God in Everyday Life.
I even did a webinar (See CoffeeHouse Theology Webinar Replay) with Ed Cyzewski to download the MP3 or view online.
Some of Ed’s insights are pretty profound.
- Is theology important in personal evangelism?
- What role does theology play in how we do personal evangelism?
- How does our culture shape our theology and vice versa?
- How does our theology shape our mission?
- Can you do theology without being a post-modern philosopher?
- How do you think we should rate the importance of Scripture, culture, tradition, church, when it comes to shaping our theology?
My take on Ed’s Book
This book (Ed gave me one prior to the webinar) is not simply a primer on postmodernism – but rather, how do we do theology in light of our current post modern culture?
Ed looks at the intersection between
- How we read the Bible as an authoritative source
- How useful church tradition keeps us grounded
- How the global church gives us global perspective.
This last point is what I think the greatest contribution to the discussion.
Maybe instead of reviewing the book contents, I simply give an example of some of these intersections.
In order for Christian theology to thrive in a postmodern age, we desperately need to interact with Christians all across the world (p. 193)
Listening to the global church
For example, I had someone trying to tell me not to say the word “kid” to describe my children because of a King James use of the word “kid” for goat in the parable of the sheep and goats.
She says, “Kids are cursed of the Father, and therefore, use the word children. Don’t curse your children”
This well meaning woman was doing theology, but based on a misinterpretation of an English word.
This doesn’t work in Spanish and it was quite the novel teaching.
If we listen to the tradition of the church, as well as wonder how is that same passage or teaching is viewed through the global Christian Culture, this woman would see how silly her argument is.
On a different note, those who are convinced that the King James is the only inspired version seem to ignore all the other languages that the Bible has been translated in for the other languages of the earth.
Any interaction with the global church will reveal some of the silliness of their argument.
Theology with Cross Cultural Experience
Likewise, I think of some of the movements of American Christianity that blends patriotism with faith.
What do immigrants to this county think of American patriotism mixed with Christianity?
Likewise, what do ex-pats who choose to live in another country do when they no longer live in America.
In a global village, is it wise to mix patriotism with Christian faith? I don’t have an answer, but I raise it myself since I live and minister in two cultures.
I also think of some evangelical clichés that glibly talk about prosperity:
“God’s will done God’s way will get God’s supply.”
For example, I think of third world evangelists laboring in some of the poorest slums, planting churches that have people who are just trying to survive. No resources, no volunteers, no children’s ministry, no time, and no money.
They labor for the gospel, yet maybe get an offering of lemons.
How can the gospel make a difference among the poor when resources are not visible?
What would the kingdom of God look like in the town that lives on the landfill in Managua Nicaragua?
Extreme poverty, yet the kingdom of God is preached.
Souls are saved, but there is not much change in poverty.
Missionaries work for medical teams, clean water, literacy, as do irreligious corporate foundations.
Can culture be changed by the gospel? Sure we can point to William Booth or the Great Awakening, but what can we do to encourage the evangelist laboring in any slum in any nation where corruption rules the government?
Seeing evangelical clichés through the light of my own work in developing nations is informing my theology and challenging some of the assumptions I bring to the table.
Order your Copy
Order your copy of Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life (NavPress), an introduction to contextual theology for lay readers that explained the roles of context, God, scripture, tradition, and global Christians in the forming of theology.
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