Reading through some church history lately, I’ve a short reflection to share. In the 1500’s, there was a movement in Western history that changed the world forever. That movement was the Reformation of the Western church. Alongside the renaissance thinkers, Christian scholars and preachers asked the scripture and the church questions on how Christianity ought to be lived within their culture. It wasn’t enough to have a church that dated back to 300AD, they wanted God to redeem their culture and their thoughts. This gave rise to a renewal in the church, both theologically and ecclesiologically as the ‘western’ ideals of individual rights, freedom and thought was redeemed and expressed in the local church. Much of our reformed theology comes from that time, when the Church actively sought God’s redemption of their own culture. As they reconciled their culture with God, the power of God moved through the world and saved many.
Today, there is a rising movement within the Asian Church, particularly within South-East Asian culture. There are many young Asian ministers raised up by God to do His work in the church. But the way we do church and our theology is still informed and shaped by our Western roots. The songs we sing, the services we run, the missional values we espouse. Perhaps if we were to offer our culture to God, and see it redeemed, there may be an equally great impact for the world around us. Our culture is rich, and has much to offer the wider church. If we were to find theological and ecclesiological expression of our familial values, our work ethic or even our honour-shame culture, perhaps God can make a great work of them. Just as the young man in the gospels offered up what food he had to Christ so that it may feed thousands, perhaps we can offer our culture to God to be examined and discussed so that millions may be enriched.
I am convinced that the goal of the Asian church is not to look like the Western church. It is to rise up and be a true partner in the mission of the gospel to reach those that would otherwise not be reached.