What can we learn from the ‘melting pot’?

 

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Over at my blog, there was been some spring cleaning going on – so perhaps this post should be preceded by a trigger warning (no, I think conservatives are tough enough to take it)? As my new job brings me into the front line of evangelism in a big city, although God does not change, my sense of what we need to be doing for him does. I have spent most of my life in monolingual, white, middle class communities. Christianity became inculturated there long ago, but on the whole the culture has moved on and we haven’t. The net result is what any marketing exec could tell you – those who have always bought your product still do so, but it lacks mass appeal.  If you have no experience, as was my case, of what it is to live in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-racial community, two options seem common – go all defensive or all enthusiastic. But if you stand back and do neither, so you see things, things about which I think the USA has much to teach us.

Sure, it’s multi-cultural and multi-racial, but the middle class people live in one area, and the working classes in another, and as the goods on the shelves of the corner shops (Mom and Pop stores) show, ethnic communities tend to congregate together. If you are a city or national government, how do you make sure you talk to all those communities – and listen to them? The old way was to insist that people adopted your customs and languages, but across time, that modified those older customs and languages, and you got something like a melting pot effect. It was never a perfect ‘blend’, because people tend to be attached to their own kind and customs, but it offered a chance for people from different places to become ‘Americans’.

Sometimes I read things which say that what went wrong was not insisting that everyone conformed to one model, but I wonder if that notion was wrong? Christianity spread not by insisting that everyone became Jewish – although the ‘men from James’ seem to have thought that would be a good method of evangelisation – but by a process we call ‘inculturation’ – and the USA is a really good example of that. Sure, you can try to spread the Gospel by insisting that African-Americans have church services like white middle class Episcopalians, or that you speak to Spanish-speaking communities only in English, but if you expect any of that to work, you’re on a loser. Being supreme pragmatists, Americans have tended not to do these things. You can point, rightly, to racial tensions and inter and intra-community problems, but these things, like the poor, are always with us, and at least Americans aren’t trying to pretend that these problems don’t exist.

Building communities, like evangelism, is a work in progress. If you want a comfort zone, stay away from such endeavours and criticise those who do – the Monday morning quarterback always plays the best football after all. It is easy, in pessimism, to point at what seems wrong and miss the efforts that go into making a nation out of divided and separated communities. America has been unique in doing this, and I’m less inclined to criticise than to learn – and often we learn most from things which don’t quite work – or even by getting in wrong and trying something that does. If you act, you risk getting it wrong, if you don’t act, you will definitely atrophy – for me the American way suggests positivity is better than negativity.

However much we’re all inclined to throw up our hands and despair, we know for sure that if the Apostles had taken that course, we’d be damned for eternity.

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About JessicaHof
Anglican Christian, evangelist, survivor, grateful

15 Responses to What can we learn from the ‘melting pot’?

  1. NEO says:

    As Jessica knows, this struck a chord with me, and tomorrow I will expand on some of her points here. That is why I haven’t commented here, although I hope others will, not least so that we may judge more closely where we should go.

    Excellent post, dearest friend. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • JessicaHof says:

      Thank you so much for the opportunity 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • NEO says:

        Always! You always bring us something to make us think, and a different perspective. All good for us! 🙂 xx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank God Christianity did not begin in modernity and now postmodernity! In fact Christianity is in great trouble, with the loss of what we are seeing with Gentile Apostasy! (Luke 18: 7-8, which is followed by the great Parable of the Pharisee and the publican, 9-14). And were all publicans (or should be), whether we know it or not!

    Btw, just what is true Evangelism? A great question in this 21st century!

    Like

    • Btw, speaking for myself, I thank God for His providence of a monolingual-English, white, middle class – Irish Brit – community! I learned my values from my Irish family in the 1950’s. God is good! 🙂

      Like

      • JessicaHof says:

        No one is saying otherwise – but evangelisation in a big multicultural and multilingual city can’t be carried on with regard only to one community.

        Like

        • Yes, agreed, but we all must come from somewhere, and how we are taught and raised is again providence! And Western Christianity is surely blessed with British Christian history! And too, the American Colonies were British Christian. And we are seeing the loss of this Christian history for sure!

          Like

        • Btw, allow me to share this piece… ‘In the mind of Denney the historical Jesus and the exalted Christ or Messiah are one, and the point of fusion is not dependent upon a metaphysical theory of Christology, but upon an adequate understanding of the Death and Atonement of Christ. Thus it is not really Bethlehem, but Calvary that is the focus of revelation. In the Death of Christ, we find the real Person of Christ! And the significance of the incarnation is that it provided the divine means to God’s salvific end, an atonement adequate to the necessities of divine righteousness and human need. To make the incarnation central or foremost to Christian theology, “shifts the centre of gravity in the New Testament”…. It is not His being here, but His being here as a propitiation (death or really an expiation) for the sin of the world, that the love of God is revealed! (John 3: 16) “Not Bethlehem, but Calvary is the focus of revelation, and any construction of Christianity which ignores or denies this distorts Christianity by putting it out of focus.” Thus we must say no to Natural Theology, and only the revelation by God unto the Death and Atonement of Christ! God alone ‘In Christ’ redeems the sinner! And faith itself is the gift of God, (Eph. 2: 8). The natural mind of man is slain here!’

          Rev. James Denney D.D., (1856 – 1917) See Denney’s classic book: The Death of Christ, from which this was taken in portion.

          Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          Excellent points 🙂 x

          Like

        • Thanks to let me speak! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • Btw too, in Denney’s piece, the “Person & Work” of Christ are really one, and not some esoteric abstruse idea in theology. The latter of which we see so often today in even scholastic theology!

          My last word on this, thanks again!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. the unit says:

    OK, your minds made up as to your way. Just as you reach out to other communities, don’t do anything rash, i.e. handing out Christian tracts in “no go” communities. ‘Cause you can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd.
    I know that’s not a deep thought as to what’s written, but I’m still getting up to full charge after this flu. lol

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s really not a question of just my mind or way, but my heart & mind over Scripture. And here we must do our theological homework! And the Church today is theologically lite, almost to the point of ignorance, in fact it is literally uneducated biblically and thus spiritually! Paul reminds us that we are in “a good fight”, and that as workmen/workers we are to present ourselves unto God, as one approved, who correctly handles the word of truth, (2 Tim. 2: 15). Yes the Battle is always over the Word!

      It’s very hard today to get Christians to see and realize this battle! And make no mistake this is a spiritual battle, which only a true Christian can fight.

      Like

    • NEO says:

      Good to see you back, Unit. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: The ‘Melting Pot’: Some Lessons | nebraskaenergyobserver

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