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The gathering in Grand Rapids this week has given Native American/First Nation issues real visibility. It has also sparked some useful and important discussion. The news release by Chris Meehan gives a flavor. While I wrote a lengthy comment, the other comments are also worth attending to, if for no other reason than articulating something of the tensions that arise from a desire to do ministry with Native communities. The core question, as in all mission, is how far one goes in cultural contextualization. Crossing the large cultural gaps naturally raise concerns about "syncretism", that blending of the unredeemed culture and the Gospel. Of course, in the context of Native American issues, it is a concern that flows from a North American/Northern European perspective, an assumption that ours is the normative cultural expression. In any case, allow me to put the doings at the WCRC and of the incorporation of traditional cultural practices as a subject worthy of discussion.


I was just wondering why syncretism is only a North American/Northern European concern. Isn't it a Korean concern, or an African concern? I don't get the sense that Korean missionaries are "unconcerned" about ANY culture assuming a re-interpretive authority over the Gospel.

I believe that Church history teaches us that a Christian Native American culture will not (and should not) look exactly like a Christian Northern European culture - just like a Christian Northern European culture does not mimic a Byzantine, Coptic, or 1st century Jewish convert culture. However, Church history does teach us that if there is problem with a "Christian" culture unable to confess the Apostle's Creed, then there may very well be a problem calling that culture "Christian."

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