Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity (about Soong-Chan Rah’s book)

I just started reading Soong-Chan Rah’s The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity (Downers Grove: IVP, 2009). Rah is Associate Professor at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, and he serves on the board of Sojourners. He holds an MDiv and a DMin from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Boston. His DMin thesis is “Towards a Post Modern approach to Urban Ministry.”

The Next Evangelicalism is recommended by many, including Scot McKnight, John Perkins, Harvey Cox, Philip Jenkins, Ken Fong and others.

the next evangelicalism images

Robyn Song and Darren Cronshaw wrote a review of this book, and it was published by Witness of Baptist Union of Victoria. It can be found here.

The author is teaching a course at Regent College, Vancouver, in July, and a short clip about his view on cultural intelligence can be found here.

I am up to page 23. The following quotes helpfully explains something about the subtitle of the book, as well as the contents of several chapters.

The phrase “captivity of the church” points to the danger of the church being defined by an influence other than the Scriptures. The church remains the church, but we more accurately reflect the culture around us rather than the characteristics of the bride of Christ. We are held captive to the culture that surrounds us. To speak of the white captivity of the church is an acknowledgement that white culture has dominated, shaped and captured Christianity in the United States. (pp. 21–22)

The Western, white captivity of the church is most evident in examples lie the church growth movement of the latter half of the twentieth century (chapter four) and even evident in a new thing like the emerging church (chapter five). But surprisingly, it is now finding its strongest and most visible expression in many non-Western cultural contexts (chapter six). Breaking through the white captivity of the church will be a difficult task, but with the dawning of the next evangelicalism, change must come. The change that must come may find its inspiration from non-white expressions of Christian in the United States: the African American church of the Civil Rights movement and the contextualized theology emerging out of the native American Christian community provide a model of a prophetic church confronting racism and breaking the barriers of power and privilege (chapter seven); the holistic expression of evangelism as reflected in the immigrant church in contrast to the materialism of the church growth movement (chapter eight): and the liminal, bicultural expression of multicultural community developing among the second-generation progeny of immigrants (chapter nine). These examples will provide a template and model of best practices for the next evangelicalism. (pp. 22–23)

I look forward to reading the rest of this book.


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