Friday, July 12, 2013

Book Snap: Soong-Chan Rah's "The Next Evangelicalism"

I'm no fan of the Western church, because it's become more clear from my studies that it has squandered its legacy as a vanguard of Christian faith. Philip Jenkins has pointed out that Christianity is growing in the Third World, and in The Next Evangelicalism (hereafter TNE), Soong-Chan Rah gives us Part 2 of that: America, too, is becoming less Western as more immigrants move in -- and many of them are bringing Christian faith in with them.

TNE has chapters that approach from some of the same aspects we've discussed in our social science studies of the Bible, such as individualism, contextualization, ingroups, and the effects of technology.  The difference is application: Rah speaks as a modern version of someone from a society like the world of the Bible, and the things he says are very much we might have expected had Peter or Paul come into the present. 

My one reservation: Rah is not a scholar, but a pastor, and he unwittingly gives in to the very Western views he rightly criticizes when he speaks of a "personal relationship with Jesus" [31]. But that's the only exegetical problem I did find; you'll find other aspects are in accord with the Bible's collectivist/agonistic context, such as a well-placed disposal of the modern abuse of Jeremiah 29:11 as some sort of personal guarantee of blessing [35].

A thought-provoking work that will help the apologist have a look ahead at how their mission will be affected by the changing face of American Christianity.

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