Become conversant with a wider range of theologies.

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EMIS Direct | The Converted Missionary: Becoming a Westerner Who Is Not Western-centric

To work effectively with Latinos you need to learn about different theologies tha you typically are taught in middle-class American churches. I can’t say this any better: 

Growing up in middle-class, American Christianity and then going to a fairly typical Bible school, I have been well indoctrinated with the classical views of Protestantism. I know the doctrinal positions of various evangelical denominations and something of the debates that framed them. However, what I didn’t know anything about, until recently, was the vast amount of theological debate and formation that has taken place outside my little corner of the Christian world.  

Although I am most grateful for my Protestant heritage, I have learned the value of having a wider range of theologies to draw from—from John Calvin to John Mbiti, from Southern Baptist to South American.

As an example, for many years I assumed that anything carrying the label “liberation theology” was an evil scourge, an unholy wedding of my faith with communism. It was not until I was forced to read from certain South American theologians while in graduate school that I realized there was a spectrum of thought under that umbrella, and some had something important to say.

Furthermore, since I was doing this reading while living in a part of the world which was deeply impacted by socialism, I began to appreciate their exegesis of scripture as a valuable corrective to certain attitudes I carried which were little more than extensions of my capitalist upbringing. 

We must remember that to be meaningful, theology must speak to the people who receive it. Unfortunately, missionaries’ theological frameworks are often out of alignment with the basic worldview of those they serve. Consequently, their exegesis of scripture is less than meaningful at best. Without a doubt, the God whom Christian theology is about does not change culture to culture, but just as certainly, the perspective from which he is viewed does—and that is why theology that grew up in the West often does not speak to the heart of those who did not.  

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Posted on January 1, 2011

About destinoeric

A white guy who believes Latinos will change the world, Destinoeric served with Destino from 2008-2013. You can read more of his posts here or on twitter.

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