book review – Many Colors by Dr. Soong-Chan Rah

[Review by Dr. Jack Lumanog]

Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church is the new book by Dr. Soong-Chan Rah.  This is a follow up to The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity.  His latest book both sounds the alarm for the need for the Church gaining cultural intelligence as well as some practical steps on how to get started.

The book is divided into three parts: Understanding Culture, A Constructive Cultural Paradigm and Cultural Intelligence in Action.  There were some parts of the book that were hard to get through – and probably because it was necessary groundwork to get through to the payoff of how do we see more multicultural involvement in our churches.

The book was an uncomfortable read in parts simply because I resonated with certain portions where Dr. Rah addressed Asian-American assumptions in a group dynamic. And, on the topic of uncomfortable parts, was where he shared some stories as it relates to minority culture and their food. He remarked how some caucasian students at his seminary reacted uncharitably when some Korean students shared some of their traditional food. I had that reaction from my neighborhood friends all growing up because of the very foreign look, feel, taste and smell of my very Filipino food that our family had to offer for dinner.

One of the most practical steps offered in the book is how our food and sharing meals and life together around a dinner table can help bridge the cultural gap that exists between us. He masterfully weaves in how Jesus did this with the Communion meal of bread and wine. Dr. Rah’s explanation of the life shared at the Communion table to the dinner table is well worth your time and attention.

For me, Dr. Rah’s The Next Evangelicalism is an important work as it gave me some resources to draw on in explaining the current problem in the Church as it relates to race relations. For his follow up work in Many Colors, essentially the same case is stated as he did in his first book but the presentation comes across more winsome – but just as compelling at the same time.

As an Asian-American pastor, I am thankful for Dr. Soong-Chan Rah for being a practical prophet for our times.  Not only speaking the uncomfortable truth, but for giving us in Many Colors some practical resources on how to get where we need to be as the Church in the 21st century.

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