As a student of church history (I am not a church historian) and one who has tried to dig deep into my Christian roots so I am best able to position myself and the congregations I influence, I have a strong connection to both the ancient and future church — since the height of the tree is limited by the depth of the roots!
In this article, I use the word “Outlier” to describe an exceptional person who operates largely outside of the norms of mainstream to change the world. Notable biblical heroes such as John the Baptist, Jesus, Micaiah, Elijah, the Apostle Paul, and our Lord Jesus Christ, were all outliers since they did not conform nor function within the institutional religious frameworks of their day.
It is my intention in this article, to show the relationship between theological formation in the church and its particular culture and contemporary movements. By culture we mean the language, arts, habits, values, currency, and aspirations of a people group, a community, city or nation.
It has been evident to numerous biblical scholars that often (if not most of the time) believers (including preachers) interpret the Bible through the lens of their culture. This has resulted in many beliefs, doctrines and practices prevalent in the church that are not in accord with the clear teaching of Scripture. Sadly this is often the case with the Evangelical church in the United States. Since the U.S. is so influential, American Evangelicals have also exported a gospel replete with an American cultural paradigm that is not in line with the Hebraic paradigm of Scripture. Consequently, sometimes in the U.S. pulpit, preaching can sound more like the “American Dream” than sound, biblical teaching.
A couple of years ago, my dear friend Bishop Harry Jackson called a few leaders and discussed his plans to initiate an event to deal with the issue of the worsening racial divide in America. The result was “The Reconciled Church” event on January 15 (providentially the date of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday), which was hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes in the Potter’s House church in Dallas, Texas.
When I say “market driven” I am referring to the contemporary ethos in culture whose only value is infinite growth and production. This market-driven culture is equally in the contemporary evangelical church. This is very different from the Hebraic mindset of the word of God the church should be taking their cues from.
I have been involved in numerous local, city and national initiatives related to the body of Christ. Often, our mantra circles around the term “we need unity in the body of Christ”. While that is a good start, it should not be the end game for the church. In John 17:20-23 Jesus’s prayer for the church is that we would be one.
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