Week 1: Introduction to Culture Specific Evangelism (part 1) September 14-20

Questions

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    Paypal Deposit

    beckermike

    I think there was a $25 deposit that Mariko and I should pay. Will there be a link sending that to us?

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    Operation Japan Link?

    beckermike

    I think there is an Operation Japan link and a $5 fee for this set of resources. Will this be sent via email or somewhere within this class tool?

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    Date / Time for Initial Telephone Conference Call?

    beckermike

    Is there a specific date/ time for the conference call mentioned above? Or is it set up with each student or a recording that we can listen to at our own schedule?

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    Posting Thoughts Online?

    beckermike

    Do we just post them using this Questions Link or is there a separate place within this tool where we post a response/questions about each item we watch/read? (Some online classes have a kind of learning portal which allows students to post their papers/comments/journals and then other students in the class respond to them.

    • Don Wright

      Mike,
      Jusat follow the instructions, Mikle

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    I don't have the link for today's zoom call?

    Jdvanwyhe

    ??

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    today's zoom call?

    Jdvanwyhe

    I don have a link for today’s zoom call?

    • inhosong

      I couldn’t attend the zoom call today because my work schedule was accidentally changed today. I hope to join you guys next time and let me get the link if there is record video available for the zoom call today. Thanks!

    • Harumi Butler

      Unfortunately I can’t attend any of the zoom calls of the course either due to my work schedule. I also could not find the way to post a fresh message other than clicking “Reply” on this original comment….
      I enjoyed watching the recorded zoom call though. Thank you everyone! I just moved back to Japan after living in the US to take care of my aging parents. Just the other day was “Obon” event where Japanese people believe that the ancestors’ spirits returns to the earth for a period of Obon. I went to my ancestors’ grave yard with my parents and my sister’s family. It’s been 30 years since I visited the grave yard. My brother in law asked me to pour water onto certain tomb stones there. I felt very uncomfortable then but I didn’t disrespect the family by saying “no”. So when Daniel shared about the “Senko” occasion in Japanese funerals I could totally put myself in that situation. I am daily asking Jesus to give me wisdom to handle those kinds of situations minute by minutes. The Holy Spirits gives me what I need when I ask and I am so grateful for that. My family is very respectful about my faith. I have so many chances to talk with my mother about God and how God is so personal to each one of us. My mother doesn’t have the concept of grace of God very well. She worships her own god in a local religion and always talking about work based faith. I am just grateful to my God who has given me this opportunity to live with my parents to shed the light into my family’s life. AND I am excited about this class in which I will gain extra knowledge about how to handle everything here. Thank you.

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    How to discern culture specific evangelism and Syncretism? What would be the priority?

    inhosong

    I was so much impressed by the article “What is culture specific evangelism”. Living in America society as an Asian immigrant, I also had to face so many challenges which deny my own cultural identity and tradition. Without realizing it, people’s minds and thoughts are so much shaped in the way that westernized standard is the only proper and global way, and other cultural traditions only remain as less important. And even in church community and among Christians, its tendency even get stronger. Some cultural differences easily become as like not biblical, and also some cultural preferences turn into as like biblical truths.

    And it was also very interesting to read the analysis about the revival of Christianity in Korea related to culture based evangelism. But there was also the bad side effect of fast spreading evangelism in Korea which was so strongly connected to syncretism and prosperity gospel. Without thoroughly teaching the genuine essence of Christian theology and principle, it was so easily spread out to the people by mixed with some indigenous religion. And it eventually became the main reason of why Christianity is so rapidly losing its fame in Korea in recent years. I believe that culture specific evangelism should be very carefully planted to avoid any sort of syncretism so that it doesn’t bring limited revival.

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    Minako's thoughts and questions

    Minako Wilkinson

    What was encouraging to me in the Week 1 Video: Christianity as the highest fulfillment as people groups, whether Japanese, Hawaiians, etc.” A few years after my conversion I was wrestling with the issue of identity, and had a chance to ask a British priest and theologian John Stott, “How can I be Christian and still maintain my identity as Japanese?” He said, “I don’t know much about Japanese culture, but God is the Creator of all peoples and peoples have created cultures. Peoples reflect God’s glory and therefore cultures must reflect His glory, too.” So I began to think the vices and virtues of a given culture can be considered in terms of reflection of God, Satan, and our fallen nature. If a given culture and its people group is redeemed by God, then it follows that people would reflect God’s full glory. What do you all think?

    “What is culture specific evangelism?” The article helps us to look for “signposts” in a given culture that show God has always loved the people in it, and it makes a helpful distinction between general vs. specific revelations of God. What I’d like to add is, in addition to the three conclusions the article says when very few people respond to the gospel, God’s sovereignty. While I realize the extreme importance of culturally specific evangelism, it’s simply may not yet be God’s timing now for us to see a missiological breakthrough in a given culture, just like in personal evangelism, one could use all the right tools to share the gospel, and yet the person I share the gospel with does not yet realize his/her need of a Savior. Do we need to be able to discern what is the barrier to the gospel? That is, our inability to share the gospel appropriately, the person is not yet ready to admit his/her need, or the Lord hasn’t drawn him/her to Himself yet.

    “Identity formation and spiritual development” It was painful to read about African believers changing into Western clothing when attending church and such. I thought of typical Japanese people’s concepts of what it means to be Christian. Their concept may come from Christians’ outward, behavioral patterns (not participating in traditional, indigenous activities because if these activities take place on Sundays Christians go to church instead or because Christians consider these activities as of the devil). The gospel is hard enough to accept: God wants our submission to His lordship over all areas of our lives, and we would be making the gospel even harder for Japanese people to accept by unwittingly teaching that we have to renounce our cultural identity.
    “Jesus living and disciping among the lost” The article points out that gospel movements in Mark 5 and John 4 started just from one individual in each community because these individuals remained in their community rather than being extracted from it. What an important principle as we try to see the gospel spread through relational networks.

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    Identity in Christ

    Linda Grimms

    These introductory materials ground us in God’s redemptive plan for peoples of all tribes, nations and languages who will join in the ultimate hallelujah choir revealed to us in Revelation 5:9-10 and 7:9-10. The intro video set the stage for seeing God’s redemptive goal that all peoples would come to see Christianity as the highest fulfillment of who they are meant to be. The article introducing cultural based evangelism encourages us to look for the signposts that point to YHWH God in every culture — signposts within each culture that help people see that God has always loved and had an intimate, caring relationship with them throughout their long history and culture. As a part of my prayers and pilgrimages in Japan, I often ask God to show me His working among the peoples of Japan.

    Dr. Ozawa’s article provides a global redemptive perspective on our identity in Christ. Identity in Christ is a much-used phrase in the western church — but this article really convicted me of my cultural-centric attitude on this. His article ends in a summary paragraph stating that non-western Christians must come to know that their identity comes from a “Christ who not only died for them but who accepts them ‘sono mama’ (Japanese for ‘just as we are’). The power of God’s love is manifest in His acceptance of us in the linking of each person’s unique values within the context of a unique history of a unique peoples.” What a powerful conviction against the concept that the peoples of the world must surrender their cultural, historical and traditional identities in order to find their identity in Christ.

    I am excited for what I will be learning in this course! It resonates well within my missional spirit and biblical training. Off to a great beginning!

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    What are your thoughts/experiences about Culture Specific Evangelism?

    Marty Parker

    Kikawa Sensei, on the zoom call, asked what our thoughts and experiences about Culture Specific Evangelism are? (I hope I have phrased his question appropriately.

    Most of my experience with Culture Specific Evangelism comes from my training in the Fulfillment View via Dr. Ivan Satyavrata (AG Calcutta). He was one of my professors. I really love the fulfillment view and as it relates to my own work in Conversational Evangelism, I try to utilize it within that context.

    For example, one of my close Japanese friends is a Buddhist. During a spiritual conversation she opened up about striving each day to be like the lotus flower that rises above the mud.

    This was a description beyond my personal experience at that time. However, I immediately picked up on the works-based essence of her sentiment. And I took a huge risk and replied, “I realize that what I will tell you may not be a perfect fit with your description of becoming like the lotus flower rising above the struggles of this life… But in Christ, you are the lotus flower. The struggle is over and you are free.”

    With those words, her face lit up with joy. And I could see a great burden was lifted from her. She continues to tell my wife and I how she believes in God; which technically, is theologically contrary to Buddhist doctrine. I believe this usage of the fulfillment view is not instant, nor should it be.

    In this situation with my Japanese Buddhist friend, I recognized that “A=A” theological precision was not necessary to validate her personal experience of the daily struggle to become the lotus flower. Core Biblical doctrines like the two natures of Christ, etc… can be sorted out later on with people.

    I am excited to hear how your insights make way for good application.

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    JD's thoughts and questions

    Jdvanwyhe

    Week 1 video: i was very struck by Daniel’s comments in this short video, and his points about Satan’s purpose and what is most valuable. Reminded me of a quote, “missions exist because worship doesn’t.”(John Piper) And how this should be our true purpose and motivation.

    What is CSE paper: A good read. Learned that every culture needs to be “decoded” to find/ develop a tailored Gospel presentation. This could also be true for expressing love, but to a much lesser degree? Don’t you find it much easier to communicate love, vs truth, in another culture?

    Identity Formation and Spiritual Development paper: i was not familiar with these aspects of identity formation and found this paper very interesting. Makes a lot of sense. The paper doesn’t mention this, but wouldn’t finding our identity in Christ be the greatest fulfillment of Identity Formation?

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    Observations on CSE - Mike Becker

    beckermike

    What Is Culture Specific Evangelism?
    Non-Western peoples in general, have not accepted Jesus as readily as Western peoples. For example, India is 2.4% Christian1 even though the gospel has been preached for two thousand years there, 0.4% of Thai are Christian after 250 years,2 and 0.5% of Japanese attend Christian church after 450 years.

    This is the challenge for all who long to see specific nations surrender to Jesus’ reign and rule. The central idea is that each culture has different ways of explaining the good news that could unlock an understanding and coming to Christ in more significant ways. Using the incorrect “language/models/understanding” is like trying to run a program on a MAC operating system on a PC. This is a good analogy.

    Kikawa posits that Culture Specific Evangelism(CSE) could be a key to unlocking a greater understanding of the gospel and response to God’s good news.

    He identifies Some Culture Based “Signposts” could include The Indigenous Names of God, and Cultural Traditions That Point to Jesus or Can Be Used to Explain Biblical Principles. The examples of the Korean and Karen people groups are compelling examples of these kind of “keys”. Likewise – the redemptive analogies illustrated in Don Richardson’s Peace Child and more broadly in Eternity in their Hearts demonstrate the power of this concept.
    I am eager to hear more about these “keys” and identify them in specific people groups.

    I also wonder about the impact of influential leaders in ethnic groups that have forcefully opposed the gospel and instituted widespread persecution of Christians – how has that impacted the spread of the gospel. For example, in Japan – the gospel had an initial and reportedly large impact and acceptance on Japan before a widespread, vicious, and ruthless persecution stunted the spread of the gospel. Likewise, the lies of Islam have imprisoned Muslims in many people groups for centuries – opposing the truths of the gospel with falsehoods about the Bible, the role and truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the nature of God, and the real solution to our sin problem.

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    Mariko's thoughts and questions

    mariko

    Just as Dr. Kikawa mentioned in the introductory video, many Japanese told me, “Christianity is a foreign religion and it is nothing to do with them.” They are fine with their own god or religion.” Just as the introductory video describes, if we present the gospel as “Coming Home (fulfillment who we are as Japanese or their own nationality),” and “being the completement,” they would be more receptive to Christianity. Instead of disregarding their own culture or tradition, we are completing who they are meant to be by believing in Christ. Since I, myself somehow believed that there is no evidence of Yahweh in Japan beyond the 1500s until I watched a video, “Fingerprint of God,” I felt a bit out of place to be a follower of Christ among Japanese friends.

    In addition, it’s all about love, not really the culture. Does this God love us? We need to present the gospel in the way that they can comprehend God’s great love for them. In order to do so, we have to understand their worldview which is very different than a western worldview. That explains the importance of the Culture Based Evangelism. Finding the “signposts” that God has placed within every culture communicates God’s love for Japanese from the beginning. A great reminder that God has revealed himself through the “General Revelation” as well “Special Revelation” (Rom. 1:20 and Acts 17:26-28). “Christianity transcends all cultures and yet encompasses all cultures.”

    I’m looking forward to exploring more “signposts” of Japan and learning how I can communicate with Japanese people the deep love of God more effectively!

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    Esha: CSE101: Week 1

    EshaRJC

    This week’s both videos and articles have been very helpful in understanding the importance of cultural contextualization of the Gospel. I love the term Dr. Richardson has for this cultural contextualization: “Redemptive analogies”. Finding values and practices found in the culture to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which makes sense for people within their cultural context. So how can we use Japanese poems, stories, dances and holidays to point people to Jesus. What are the most important cultural values for the Japanese people that defines them?

    I have always wondered “how much can we contextualize without losing its true essence.” For a “revealed” religious systems such as “Christianity”, which exhibits an exclusive faith, sometime adding cultural values can be seen as impurifying the pure truth. I do not think adding cultural values impurifies the faith. However, the root question here is – How can we incorporate within Christian faith the aspects of the culture, and not become just another faith like any other? This can be especially difficult in countries like India where there are 33 million gods. What cultural values do we say “yes” to and which one we choose to drop. As a Christian living in India, I have used this rule of thumb in my faith. If the cultural value isn’t against the Bible and its teaching, then I am ok incorporating that cultural value in my faith. But even with this rule of thumb, it isn’t as easy as it seems.

    I will share a story where I incorporated a similar cultural contextualization, but also having difficulty being accepted among my own Christian friends. When I was participating in my school event, I dressed in a beautiful Indian kurta (which was acceptable by all) but then I completed my look with a “bindi (sticker dot)” on my forehead. For many of my Christian friends, I was looking like a Hindu with that bindi and I shouldn’t wear that because that makes me look “non-Christian”. I didn’t understand how my entire being had chance to radiate the Christ but a dot could ruin it. I do not believe that bindi goes against any biblical truths. This example also shows how current Christians can be the recipient of the critics of their fellow believers for incorporating such cultural/traditional values. I read in a book that even well meaning and strong in their faith Japanese Christians are divided in their opinion about whether it is ok for a Christian to participate in Bon odori. Knowing the importance of this festival within Japanese context, it can be very tough for an individual, especially when the rest of their family follows a Buddhist tradition.

    Cultural contextualization is also not a black and white thing. Sometimes there are so may layers. So individual values and opinions can make cultural contextualization extremely difficult. So, while opinions can differ, “in all we do, let us cultivate love” 1 Corinthians 16:14

    • mariko

      Hi Esha,
      I enjoyed reading your thoughtful post! You must have lived in Japan to know about Bon Odori:) Someday, I’d like to hear your testimony. I like what you said, “Cultural contextualization is also not a black and white thing. Sometimes there are so many layers.” A long time ago, when my children were still babies, my parents were not believers and they sent our children dolls for Boys Day and Girls Day. I was concerned about the spiritual influence on our children from those dolls and asked the Japanese pastor whether I should keep them. His response was to pray about it and see if there’s any spiritual influence over those dolls. I’m glad that he didn’t just tell me to discard them because those are not Christian things. If I did that, it could have been greatly offensive and disappointed my parents. And it could have made my parents further away from the God of Christianity. Rather I appreciated the gift and was able to share with my parents how we trust the Lord to protect and nurture our children. Eventually, both my parents came to know Christ. There is always a love aspect of our relationship. Paul also says in 1Cor. 9:19-22 that for the sake of winning the weak, he became weak. He had become all things to all people. This is always something to think about.

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    Jim's thoughts

    Jim Woo

    I think God has already been bringing this into my attention from teaching ESL last year. I met some friends, and one who is a follower of Christ, but lost some friendships because of cultural mistakes that I made. I am very sensitive to being right culturally because of these losses. I do hope and pray for them to become followers of Christ, and for the one who is, to continue to grow. I hope to see this sibling in heaven when we return home.