Learning From Others

 

shutterstock_84668287-2.jpgIn the past few years I have had the privilege of going back to school to finish my Masters of Divinity at Fuller Seminary.  One of the most powerful aspects of the school is its commitment to diversity in the areas of
ethnicity, gender, and nationality.  This has created such an incredible learning environment and given me the opportunity to learn from professors, other students, and textbooks that have a wide array of perspectives. It’s easy to become culturally introverted and caught up in the orbit of societal circles that are already in agreement with our own viewpoints. It’s incredibly rare to find ourselves naturally drawn to this depth of diversity; I am glad that Fuller has pushed me to think, interact, and learn by venturing into territory I wouldn’t have gone otherwise.

As an American Christian, I think we have an incredibly introverted subculture. America has become so accustomed to being a global leader that, at some point, we stopped listening to others around the globe. The same is true for American Christianity.  We positioned ourselves (at least in our own minds) as the authority and stopped listening to other expressions of Jesus followers around the world. This leaves us open to blindspots in our attempt to live out the Christian life and the likelihood that we could become unbalanced in our doctrinal emphasis.

Our Christian subculture is still coming to terms with, and may be in denial of, the reality that Christendom in America is declining [1]. All the while, the Global South is witnessing explosive increase in the number of committed Christ followers [2]. We are past due for some global interaction and ecclesiological engagement.  In order to do this, though, we must surrender our pride and sit at the feet of our brothers and sisters who are gaining missional ground throughout the rest of the world.  We must become learners and listeners of the Global South but, I suspect, we will need a little push to break us out of our comfortable orbit. May we start with a simple prayer: “Lord, give us a push.”

Notes:

  • [1] John S. Dickerson. The Great Evangelical Recession.
  • [2] Philip Jenkins. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity.
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