A conversation that began in England …

I had a too-brief chat with a fellow who had just returned from several years of mission work in India … his continuation of that conversation after the jump.

I just want to again say, thank you for what you are doing and your commitment to the way of Jesus. I was impacted by you as a person after knowing you for many years through your writings and media. I admire your courage.
I just want to add something to what you said about listening to third world theologians/Christian leaders. I have found that some of the worst kinds of sexism that oppresses women, anti-homosexual preaching using the Bible, end-times theology that rejects creation care and militant theories of atonement that reject peace-making are found in places like India where the church numerically is growing at a miraculous rate. Hard to complain when new believers are being added to the church but there is hardly any internal critique on the role US dollars play in supporting Christendom in the global south.
Many many pastors have created little autonomous kingdoms of 20 – 30 churches and they are often (not all) as corrupt and autocratic as the politicians. What I want to suggest here is that believers in the West must not be afraid of practicing ‘critical’ listening/engagement with fellow believers and the church in the global South.
You mentioned Desmond Tutu and his story relating to the Bible. The flip-side of the Tutu story is the fact that many black pentecostal churches in South Africa did not wholeheartedly join in the anti-government struggle because they had tacitly accepted apartheid theology. For many of these black Christians liberation from the sorrows of racism was a future hope in heaven, nothing to do with this life.
So my point is this… Newbigin wrote “The church is the hermeneutic of the gospel.” I would explain this as ‘the whole church (south and north together) is the hermeneutic for the world to understand the whole gospel.’

Might it also be true that the the church is the unfinished hermeneutic of the gospel? Wouldn’t the post-slavery church better reflect the gospel than the pre-abolition church did, and could the same be said of the post-chauvinist church, the post-non-environmental church, etc?