Week 8: God’s Fingerprints in Culture November 2-8


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    JD's thoughts


    The idea and presentation of Jesus movements is interesting. I would applaud and agree that new believers could remain in their community/ culture and be led by God to discern which aspects of the culture and society could remain, be adapted, or abandoned.
    But I’m having trouble with “remaining” a Hindu, Muslim, or Buddhist? It sounds like the author is referring to more than just a cultural bond, and for these “christians” to still be practicing H, M, or B? That’s a difficult one for me. It seems clear that christianity has no place with H, M or B. Would we encourage Mormon Christians? i.e. You can follow the real Jesus, but still attend and support the Mormon church? That way you’ll still keep face with your family and community?
    I’m not trying to minimize the struggle that converts face in other cultures, but these verses come to mind:
    -a man cannot serve two masters….
    – if you deny me before man….
    – I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother…
    This is obviously a bigger struggle in cultures that are violently opposed to Christianity. And choosing how open to be about conversion can be serious, but to continue to support and affirm religions that go against the God of the Bible, seems counter to faith.

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    Mike's Week 8 Observations and Questions


    Importance of Love – accepting the culture and traditions and look for signposts or bridges into their culture and taking the time to learn/investigate to how they can understand the good news. This is such a strong way to demonstrate love to others. Of course, in many places today the outside of what people wear and their observable actions look similar to many Western Cultures as the economic advances are adopted globally. However, over time it becomes apparent that underneath a veneer of similarity there lies great difference.

    Thoughts from paper on Supernatural One True God Testimony – I really appreciated the examples again of how God has gone before us and prepared the way for those God sent to us to share the good news. “When we go to a culture or a people, we should be actively looking for what God left there that would point the people to Christ. God is not a respecter of persons! I believe that He has left something of Himself in every culture. We must research and find it like Paul did in Athens.” It reminds me of the way the Henry Blackaby teaches in his book Experiencing God – Look to see where God is working around you and join Him in what He is doing based on how Jesus explained to his disciples in John 5:17 & 19 – My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too am working…I tell you the truth, the Son can do only what he sees his Father doing; he cn do only what he sees his father doing…

    The article on Jesus Movements and Following Jesus within Hindu and Muslim communities was just an initial introduction to the concept. However, I found that it speaks in generalities and doesn’t address some of more difficult topics and conflict a follower of Jesus may face within a Muslim or Hindu context. I’ve read many accounts of this idea over the past decade and it is a concept I heard about in the 1980s as we lived in Turkey. I remain skeptical of the construct of remaining a Hindu, or Buddhist, or Muslim and becoming a born again following of Jesus. They are a complete worldview that stands hostile to the claims of the Triune God thru a relationship with the revealed Word of God incarnate. There are bridges of truth or references within their scriptures or prophecies given that can form redemptive analogies. However, it seems disengenous that I can claim to be a follower of Jesus while remaining a follower of Mohammed who denies Jesus is the Son of God, proclaims that killing infidels is a good thing, presents an end of times judgement based of works alone, etc. Can I remain in a Muslim community to share the good news of Isa Al Mesih as Savior and Lord crucified, dead and buried, and risen from the dead? If the Muslim community will allow this – perhaps? Can I remain under the Sharia and Koran and Hadith revelations while accepting the revealed scriptures of Christianity?

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    Week 8 observations

    Linda Grimms

    I endorse the view that God speaks to each culture and people and time by general revelation — absolutely. I love the idea that He can speak His special revelation about who Jesus is, and that He can work across culture, people and time to draw people to Jesus. I even embrace the idea that Jesus is properly the only biblical-common-denominator regardless of how people worship Him in culture. And I am thankful for the articles that show this Jesus-Movement approach as engaging in small groups of Jesus-followers in community, representing the family of Jesus-followers.
    I would ask how discipleship in accord with Scripture is taking place – I do not mean this as a “Christian culture question”. God’s Word is our faithful truth and guide as we grow in Jesus. Our understanding of Jesus must be grounded in and shaped by God’s Word. What would be most vital to my understanding of this issue is to learn how these Jesus Movement followers spend time studying trustworthy Scriptures that have been translated into their own languages .

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    Week 8 Harumi

    Harumi Butler

    Week 8 comment

    In SUPERNATURAL TESTIMONY OF THE ONE TRUE GOD, I really appreciated the comment the author made, “When we go to a culture or a people, we should be actively looking for what God left there that would point the people to Christ.” I need to remember this as I continue to live among Japanese people. I need to constantly seek God what He is wanting me to use to speak about God’s love, grace and mercy. I was talking with my mother who worships a Buddhism god and she commented about not looking forward to die. Since I am looking forward to go to heaven and meet Jesus, I bursted out saying, “Aren’t you looking forward to go to heaven? Jesus said that everyone can go to heaven if she or he believes in Him.” It just came out of my mouth so naturally. My mother did not react to my comment partly because she has a bad hearing but I pray that the Holy Spirit planted something in her. She just said, “I think I will go to heaven because I didn’t commit any crime.”, just like Dr. Kikawa mentioned a few times about the word “sin” taken as “crime” in Japanese language. I am praying that in near future I will be able to share with my mother the true definition of “sin and repentance” in Jesus. In this article the author talked about the comments that Gautama Buddha made, “Buddha said, ‘This is what the coming god will be like – in the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet there will be circular marks, and in his side will be the scars from having been pierced. This god will be a large golden boat who will take you from your suffering to true nirvana.” Now I don’t know if I could use this when I talk with my mother or not, but it is a fun knowledge to keep.
    In Jesus Movements, Discovering Biblical Faith in the Most Unexpected, author says, “If we lack respect for our own heritage, we will not be able to fully respect the heritage of another people.” Through this course, I really learned that I do need to respect where other people are coming from regarding their beliefs. That was a huge gain for me.
    I am having a hard time agreeing with the most of the contents of “Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist Followers of Jesus: How Should We Respond?” I know that God can reveal Himself to anyone in any background, but as we surrender to God we need to be prepared to surrender even our culture to Him sometimes. God should come before our culture. I did like the author’s comment that says, “All of us as Jesus followers are called to discern what must be rejected from our surrounding culture, no matter where we are born.”

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    Mariko's thoughts and questions


    As I read different articles and journals last couple of weeks, the first thing that came to my mind was
    “Then what about those brothers and sisters in Christ who died because of Christ’s name? Was their death in vain? Were they not wise by choosing their words or answers carefully? Was that why they got martyred?” I understand the idea of finding signposts of each culture and share the gospel in a way they can understand God’s existence and plan for us all. However, I can’t get over the idea that we basically don’t use the name Christ follows or believers (キリスト信者、キリスト信仰者). I can’t say I’m Buddist (仏教徒). I’m sure this is not what Kikawa sensei is trying to tell us. So I would love to have a further explanation or discussion about this on the next zoom meeting!
    Meanwhile, I like the statement Gavriel Gefen made in ‘Discovering Biblical Faith in the Most Unexpected Places’ article.
    “I believe that the message of Jesus was never intended to be spread by means of cultural conquest. I am convinced that Jesus’ message will increasingly spread among peoples of other faith traditions only as God’s kingdom grows like yeast from within. By the grace of God and the discernment of his Spirit, growing numbers of Jesus followers within various Christian traditions are increasingly coming to recognize the work of God through Jesus within other cultures.”
    This helps us more to realize how God has worked in all the different people from the beginning and his love has prevailed throughout history in the world.

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    Jim Woo

    I’m not convinced that the Japanese church enforces the wearing of suits. I’ve seen most salarymen already wearing suits. I would suspect it’s more of a habit (or lack of alternate clothes) rather than an enforcement of the church.

    I agree with approaching with love. I’d like to understand what signposts God has placed in Japan already which could be used to bridge to the gospel. Looking forward to CSE 201!

    In the meantime, there was a glimmer of hope with the *Pure Land* Buddhist sect in Japan. Perhaps it could encompass the rest of the Buddhist followers?

    I think I would like to speak with someone who is afraid of Muslim and Hindu Christians because they would be spies. I’m not sure I understand what kind of spying they would be doing and would like to better understand this viewpoint.

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    Week 8 Reflection


    From this week’s study, I most liked Dr.Kikawa’s saying in the video that knowing the culture of indigenous people is not about gaining knowledge but about love. We Christians often try to plant our own cultural perspective and preference to the people who we reach out. But as this class emphasizes, the genuine teaching of the gospel should be separated from any sort of cultural superiorism, bias, preference. It was very interesting and challenging to see the lives of the people who accepted Jesus without leaving their own cultural heritage from this week’s articles. But I also think we have to be very careful to know what it means of accepting Jesus. Jesus should stand at the center of our lives, no matter what culture, society, tradition, heritage we live with. I appreciate all the efforts of this class that helped me so much to have missional mindset and perspective toward the cultures outside of my own world.

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    Esha: CSE101: Week 8


    In the paper of “Supernatural Testimony of the One True God”, the author takes us to a journey of many cultures where God has left His fingerprints. Many of these examples are also found in the book we read, along with some new examples. Reading these examples reminded me of my grandma who was illiterate. She never went to school and even the closest church was outside the village. But she had an amazing faith. More than anything, her faith really shone through her life, her conduct and how she treated others. Many times, we forget that we are the living Gospels people around us will read.

    In the Jesus movement article, author Gavriel Gefen uses the example of Jesus to explain how one can stay within their cultural community and still be a follower of Jesus. Although I understand the author’s point of view, it also must be pointed out that Jesus as a Jew came to fulfill the Jewish law and therefore there is a tremendous overlap there. In contrast, a new believer in Jesus will not be able to find such overlap within a Hindu community. As for example, there is no concept of one supreme God; in fact, gods fight among each other who can represent the One Supreme God (very different from Jewish culture where there is a concept of one supreme God). Not only that, idol worship is widespread throughout every aspect of a Hindu’s life which Holy Spirit will confront. So, it is impossible to live in a Hindu community as a follower of Jesus without having an ongoing conflict within yourself or within your community. Christ’s claim of exclusivity strikes the very core of Hinduism that teaches that there are 330 million gods. I am not saying there is no possibility of incorporating Hindu cultural aspects into Christian faith. I will give one example of how my church back home has done a tremendous job in incorporating cultural aspects into worship of Jesus. In Hinduism, there are certain songs and dances that are used to worship their gods. We have taken these well-known tunes of songs and replaced the words of Bible and worship of Jesus within that. So now you have a very well known tune filled with worship of Jesus. Another example is how church has incorporated the traditional dance on Christmas and Easter to worship Jesus.