Cynicism Up-front or Dream Deferred?

There is a deep part of me that has forgotten how to hope. Often when I speak of the Asian American church, my passions range from railing against our self-righteousness and hating our little cultural "enclaves" (Thank you William Woo) to wondering what God has in store for the Asian-American church. I cannot help but hate it and pine for it at the same time.

To quote Augustine, "The church is a whore…and it is my mother."

While the case could very well be made for non-Asian-American churches, I think there is something quite distinct about the non-Western mindset and how we approach growing in faith of this Jewish Messiah. A Greek worldview, now modernized, is such a change for Asians. Whereas writers like Jared Diamond would say Europe became home to great civilizations because of its diversity of peoples mixing with such geographical blessings, East Asians have had monolithic cultures in large part because of its homogeneity. The notions of multiculturalism and even pan-Asian churches is something that are only possible because of a synergy of economic, social, commercial, and most of all, spiritual forces that are happening right now.

While many people criticize missionaries for being covert imperialists to the cultures that they went to proselytize, I think that for whatever energy went to presenting the Gospel in the native context, the final message that the natives would also be called to leave their native contexts wasn't quite conveyed. In short, the kingdom of God is so great that you will leave your kingdom to pursue it. Of course, that is the point we're getting to now.

The cynic in me could say that the bible doesn't mention Scythian churches in Colossae or the Ethiopian church in Phillipi. The cynic would say Asian-Americans need to be willing to lay their culture down just as the first Jewish Christians did. The cynic in me hates the politics, the stonewalling, the "saving face", the moral legalist, the Confucianism of it all, the slow we-have-been-here-for-thousands-of-years-attitude.

The dreamer in me says I love my people. Asian-Americans and their churches, with all their flaws are my people. I dream of worshipping with you. I dream and wait — for you are my greatest hope. If Moses walked in the desert for forty years, and he himself did not see the promised land…How long should I, who is no Moses, walk? Who am I to lose hope?

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  1. djchuang.com says:

    Growing Healthy Asian American Churches, 3

    Our blog-based book discussion of Growing Healthy Asian American Churches is off to a great start! Even though you do not have to have the book to comment, you are encouraged to buy the book to participate in this discussion more deeply and richly.
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