Maybe That’s Why Christianity is Becoming a Non-Western Religion

Robert Easter (who is sorely dissappointed that I’m not planning on formally reverting to Anglicanism any time soon) made a very good point in his comment on my piece Is Charismatic Culture African?

Your source on the “Sola Panel” scares the bejabbers out of me. A parallel statement would be, “This whole business of an opennesss to the Spirit of God is just not properly British, and as such I’m quite comfortable with the idea of maintaining my own withdrawn reserve as (at least) equally ’spiritual!’”

Perhaps this is why Cromwell’s Puritanism led to so much political bloodshed and persecutions while the Wesleyan Holiness movement transformed nations?

I noted that none of my Pentecostal bretheren caught this.  Perhaps they were too caught up in the excitement of our General Assembly.

Robert has touched on two very complicted issues: Oliver Cromwell and the whole business of how the Spirit moves in and interacts with different cultures.  There’s a doctoral dissertation in both of these, but I’ll try to cut to the chase.

It’s true that virtually all of the religious wars in Europe that stemmed from the Reformation were fuelled by Reformed theology and the reaction to same, and that would include Cromwell.  The whole Reformation can be seen as a conflict over Augustinianism, with Luther and Calvin taking Augustine’s anti-Pelagian theology to its logical conclusion.  Looked at that way, it’s not a pretty picture.

Wesley’s genius was to “cut the Gordian knot” of Reformed theology by admitting that people do make meaningful choices in this life and that we should be about helping them make those choices.  His solution was rooted in Anglicanism’s birth.  That solution is transforming nations.

As far as the business of culture and the move of the Spirit is concerned, there’s no question that different cultures worship in different ways.   In this hemisphere, the descendants of African slaves have had a big impact on modern Pentecost, and that’s led in turn to changing lives and eroding racial boundaries.  Wasn’t one of the promises at the first Pentecost that the Spirit be poured out on all flesh?

But it’s not just the Africans who worship exuberantly: they just dominated GAFCON. If you go to Latin America or the Far East or anywhere else, you’ll see exuberant worship.  When our lives are touched by God in a deep way, it will come out, both during our worship and in our daily life.

Christianity today is a relay where the baton is being passed from the “West” to the “Third World.”  If that’s what it takes to bring people to Christ–and I think it is–then so be it.  Let’s just celebrate and keep moving forward.

My local church has its International Prayer Centre, and its director is the Rt. Rev. Brian Barnett (the “Rt. Rev.” part is because he’s English and went on to be an Administrative Bishop in the Church of God.)  He made a comment to the effect that Anglicanism is a great religion, but the Anglicans don’t believe it.  Much of the problem, IMHO, that has brought the Anglican world to its present state is that too many in the West didn’t and don’t believe it.  It’s been heartening to me to see the large number of Anglicans who do believe it and who are willing to fight for it.  That’s something to get exuberant about.  And it will come out in our worship–everybody’s worship, no matter where their ancestors came from.

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