Friday, June 13, 2014

Getting inside the Insider Movement

Dr. Nelson Jennings’s Final Response 
I believe that the overriding question we actually face before God and others is whether we will unwittingly remain in our Euro-American-tribal gated communities, e.g., Greco-Latin theological instincts, or exhibit an ever-reforming growth through humbly engaging with other parts of the omnilingual Creator-Redeemer's worldwide Church. Our cultural-linguistic limitations, enforced by our U.S. nationalism and clannish historical sensibilities, keep us devotedly singing one Christian note and prevent us from hearing the splendor of divinely orchestrated music resounding throughout the earth. I pray that future generations of our ecclesiastical circles will develop wider cultural-linguistic breadth than we currently have.
i) I wonder if Jennings is really that confused, or if he's simply kicking up a dust-cloud to conceal the real issue. Maybe he's so defensive at this point that he sincerely believes his own propaganda.
One of the flashpoints of the IM controversy is whether Christian missionaries and Bible translators should continue to speak of Jesus as the "Son of God" in the context of outreach to Muslims. Keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg. There's much more to the Insider Movement. It just gets worse (see below).
But, for now, let's stay on point. The question at issue isn't about words, but concepts or categories. Fatherhood and sonship aren't culturebound categories. To the contrary, these are cultural universals. In the nature of the case, every human society, however large or small, primitive or advanced, has mothers and fathers, sons, brothers, &c. I daresay every language on earth has words for these core relationships. 
In addition, fatherhood and sonship are unique, irreducible, and irreplaceable categories. There's nothing more ultimate. No equivalents. These are defining, rock-bottom features of human nature. 
For that reason, God made them central theological metaphors in his revelation to man. Moreover, human fatherhood and sonship are analogous to the divine nature. 
Christians missionaries should avoid giving unnecessary offense to the receptor culture. When, however, the Gospel itself is the stumbling block, there's nothing more that a missionary can do than to explain it. OT prophets preached a message that many listeners spurned. Jesus and the Apostles preached a message that many listeners spurned. That's unavoidable. 
ii) It's also patronizing for IM proponents to think non-Western cultures can't adapt to Biblical categories. How did Western missionaries become Christian in the first place? The OT didn't originate in Western culture. And, to a great extent, the NT is rooted in the OT. 
When our Western ancestors converted to Christianity, they had to adapt to what was, in many ways, an alien outlook. For that matter, Islam has been Westernized over the centuries. Consider medieval Muslim theologians who interacted with Neoplatonic and Aristotelian philosophy. 
Finally, here's an expose of the Insider Movement:

1 comment: