- Reference Points
- Asian American Christians
- Asian Americans
- Christianity in the World
- Christianity in America
- Spectrum of Views
This year, we’re illustrating our aspirations for AsianAmericanChristian.org.
This week, we looked at how Christian world history has been taught and revised.
- Christian world history as it’s long been taught: “At the beginning of the twentieth century, church history was nothing more than Patristics, the Reformation, and white Christian men.”
- Christian world history as it’s being revised: This view has shifted to include much more than these three categories, to include much of the world.
- One revision of world Christian history focused on evangelicalism: Mark Hutchinson and John Wolffe, A Short History of Global Evangelicalism (2012): brief summary • chapter-by-chapter summary • How Western Historians have thought of evangelicalism • ‘Evangelicalism:’ usage and definitions • Notes on the history told by Hutchinson and Wolffe
- Pew Forum and Gordon-Conwell’s Center for the Study of Global Christianty’s numbers: Christians in the World • Evangelicals in the World
- [At a later point, we’ll summarize one revision of world Christian history as related by Justo Gonzales’ History of Christianity (1984, 1985), a commonly used text at evangelical institutions like these: Regent College, Gordon-Conwell, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Reformed Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary. Gonzales’ text barely refers to evangelicalism; this is how relatively new is the study (and thus the understanding) of evangelicalism by evangelicals themselves.]
You’ll notice also, that we’ve barely touched upon Asian American Christians.
In relation to Christianity in the world, current scholarship barely has anything to say about Asian American Christians.
(1) We can understand where we come from and how we fit.
While we may not necessarily think with terms like “evangelical,” “pentecostal,” or “holiness movement,” what these movements have to say will be extremely familiar to those of us who are trying to grow a personal relationship with God, who want to know the Bible more, who want to live out God’s Word. If we scratch the surface of these terms, we’ll see much of our experiences, expectations and hopes to be a people for God, to take his Gospel to the Nations, to glorify God.
(2) We can understand how we can join in.
If we understand where someone is coming from, then we can know acknowledge our differences from the outset, and begin to build upon commonalities. A Calvinist for example, will know that an Arminian may not be familiar with “TULIP,” but know that both will want to grow in Christ. Speaking to that, rather than only about points of doctrine may prove more fruitful in some situations.
On another level, as world Christian history is being revised, we too can do our part to contribute to scholarship so we can get a fuller sense of what God’s been doing in the world. While secular academics have noticed the growth of Asian American Christians, evangelical academics still have barely noticed. [Or is it that they don’t know what to do with us and/or given how relatively “new” the state of evangelical scholarship, are still trying to figure out themselves?] One hope is that AsianAmericanChristian.org’s “interviews and “surveys,” “discussions” and even “resources” can be materials for scholars to draw upon as primary and secondary sources. We literally can contribute to history and define for ourselves what we see God doing.
(3) Understanding history can help us extend grace to ourselves and others about the church’s problems.
Many believers and non-believers claim that they have a problem with the institutional church. Knowing and seeing the bigger picture of the church’s problems—the local church, as well as the worldwide Body of Christ—will help us have more understanding, compassion and grace. We can relieve some of the pressure we put on others and ourselves, knowing that many of these problems have been around for a long time. For example, knowing that since the beginning of Evangelicalism, there’s always been a tension between experience and theology mirrors today the discomfort that some Christians have being in a room full of people speaking in tongues. These Christians are not the only uncomfortable Christians, nor is tongue-speaking anything new. And yet, people still come to Christ, and God still reigns.
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SUMMER AND FALL 2015
Asian American Ministries
Frames of Reference
7 challenges to
Asian American Ministries
Asian American Ministers,
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