Once in a while, one can find a thoughtful blog post about church issues of grave concern. One pithy quote (or cliche) that has circulated is: “too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.” This blogger writes about the disconnect from the pulpit to current events, and the corresponding disconnect of spiritual life and human decisions & understanding, particularly in his experience of the Chinese church in North America.
I recently visited a friend whom I have not seen for a long time. We had a wonderful fellowship time sharing what God has been doing in our lives. During our conversation, the subject of Chinese church in North America was brought up. More and more Christians have been questioning the disconnection of church ministry and the world. Messages from the pulpit seem to be missing the heartbeat of the congregation. My friend observed that with the global economy in shambles and the OBCs fixing their vision on the trial of the former Taiwan President for corruption, the pulpit has offered not a single word on the spiritual perspectives on these issues.
… The analysis he concluded with was theological. He suspected that while Chinese Christians emphasized so much on being led by the Spirit, eventually it became an excuse for the stagnation of personal growth because of the lacking of reflection.
… While my friend observed some American churches continued to grow, the good news really belongs to the minority. Most churches, American or Chinese, still struggle with internal and external issues.
… The general culture in the church ascribes the work of the Spirit to supernaturalism. When it comes to “spiritual matters”, the understood consensus dictates that the less involvement of human decision the better. … Gradually, ignorance equals spiritual maturity.
Now, his experience is similiar to mine. It makes me wonder, though, does this over-spiritualizing and anti-intellectualism happen in other non-Chinese ethnic-Asian churches? What can be done to remedy this?
I’ll reveal a peek into my latest tentative thoughts about why the church has to do the work of contextualizing faith in ethnic & cultural context, why there needs to be churches adapted to include Asian Americans, why there needs to be Asian Americans doing theology, why there needs to be Asian Americans in leadership. In other words, it’s not enough to say that we’re all human, we’re all spiritual in Christ, we can just follow Christ by reading the Bible, praying and obeying.
I won’t write a long treatise about it. I’ll say it this way, in one word: incarnation.