[apologies - for some reason my blog went blank for a week]
I've been in ChiangMai at a conference on global Christianity organised by the International Council of Evangelical Theological Education (ICETE). We explored the implications of the shift of the center of Christianity from the North/West to the South/East.
Here are a random dozen quotes that I will remember...
[NB - these may not be word perfect as I was writing really fast!]
1. "Protestants are in such a hurry to jump from Augustine to Luther. And it is our Asian and African brothers and sisters who can fill in that gap best." (Andrew Walls)
2. "Church History courses tend to 'avoid most of the Christian world and the world of most Christians'. When we speak of 'early church' it is only ever that part of the church which laboured under the Roman Empire." (Andrew Walls)
3. "The reality is that the North and the West are missing the party." (Chris Wright)
4. "Why do we have to move to the West in order to have a voice to the Rest?" (Siga Arles, an Indian scholar, bemoaning the ongoing dependence on the Western PhD as a career track)
5. "The day we have an all-African faculty at our college will be the day I resign." (Douglas Carew, principal of African graduate school)
6. "Unlike Islam, Christianity does not need to speak:pray:worship in the language of its founder. The God to whom it witnesses is available in the common language of marginalised peoples all over the world. There is nothing God wants to say to us that cannot be communicated through simple everyday language." (Lamin Sanneh)
7. "Unlike Islam, Christianity does not need to know the exact birthplace of its founder. Jesus is born in the heart of the believer, wherever that believer happens to be." (Lamin Sanneh)
8. "The missionary commitment to (Bible) translation affirmed the language of peripheral peoples. It not only gave them the gospel, it gave them their cultural roots. This led on to the emancipation of such peoples. Time and time again missionaries saved and deepened culture, rather than destroying it." (Lamin Sanneh)
9. "The doctrine of justification must be kept central. Even the terrorist needs to be confronted with this truth. By their terrible deeds they are trying to win the approval of God. It can't be done." (Lamin Sanneh)
10. "It is not so much 'I think, therefore I am (Descartes)' as it is 'A person is a person because of other persons' (the Zulu)."
11. "Unless we are grateful to God for what we already have, he cannot entrust us with more." (quoting Bonhoeffer)
12. Was that 'Word becoming flesh' or the 'Word becoming fresh' ... I couldn't pick the heavy Chinese accent and decided I'd write it down both ways!
May we in the North and West (which I guess includes New Zealand in the Deep South) find ways to enable the South and East to 'breathe oxygen' into our part of God's mission in the world. And may we experience more of Ephesians 2 (the two becoming one) on a global scale.