According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Immigration & the ReAwakening of Christianity Around the World - Findings by the Nagel Institute of Calvin College



https://www.calvin.edu/nagel/

I recently have been taking classes from the director of Calvin College's Nagel Institute, Joel Carpenter, and have been pleasantly surprised by the many startling movements occurring in Christianity across the world. I will share these through two observations below. The first observation is an introduction of sorts and is quite short. The second observation is much long and will break every Western Christianity stereotype I grew up with as an American Christian - though I suspected as much, which is why I wanted to take the seminar in the first place. As I have time I will see if I can download with permission Joel's PowerPoint presentations (4 parts) when the class concludes in two weeks. I think you'll enjoy reading through them as much as I did as it de-Westernizes Christian growth from a non-American perspective. Here then is a picture of Christianity's worldwide growth and movement through the fates and lives of its immigrant stories full of hope, tragedy and resurrection for this year's Easter meditation.

R.E. Slater
April 15, 2017




First Observation - Introduction

Some may find this following statement remarkable but in fact "the Christian faith moves similarly with eras and cultures." If it does not there can be no witness or mission. It's one of the keys to Christianity's appeal - it's adaptability and transportability into societies.

Christianity moves with people by allowing adaptable thoughts and ideas to meet specific needs and wants. In this century the ideas of peace and love has gained a lot of traction especially in areas of the world where there is none. But hope and doubt can also be centers of appeal as well as innovation and survival where deep disruption is occurring through technology, war, and population movements.


With these changes also will come challenges to previous faith-and-belief sets... either because they are not transportable or not true to the circumstances being experienced by new believing groups. There abounds many examples here but generally the character of Westernized or Americanized Christianity has lost ground to a Christianity that is becoming more Asian, Indian, Middle-Eastern, African, or Latin.

There are more Second and Third World Christians than there are First World Christians. Of the Muslims immigrating to America 60% are Christians. Why? Because of persecution and targeted death-killings. And there are also more missionaries being sent from Non-Western countries into the Westernized lands of Christianity. Without immigrant growth in Western lands such as America, Christianity would have stopped growing upwards and would by now be losing ground. But with a new revival of immigrant growth Christianity has grown by leaps and bounds and has entered into "The Fourth Great Awakening".



Second Observation - What Worldwide Christianity Looks Like

We live in a world of stereotypes but the movement of world Christianity is breaking everyone of them. In our second class yesterday we looked at the 2010 US census findings (a census is taken every 10 years in America) related to faith and immigration. The findings were profound. Here are some of them - in no particular order - and remember these figures are 7 years old!

We are living in a time of the world's greatest migration every witnessed. Some 150 million souls now live outside of their homelands.

Syria has lost half of its population - Out of 10 million citizens 4 million have fled, 1 million have been killed over the past decades, and 1 million live in Lebanon as refugees.

What puts people in motion? Wars, Natural disasters, Poverty, Education, Political asylum (unwanteds), Economic opportunities, and persecution.


Of Muslims entering into the US 60% of them are Christian! Why? Because they are unwanted and being heavily persecuted in their own homelands for their faith. So when you think of Muslim think Christian. How odd!?!

In West Michigan there are many more non-white Christian congregations than you would think. Between GRR (Grand Rapids) and the lakeshore (Lake Michigan, which is more like an ocean of freshwater than it is a lake) there are approximately 50-60 Hispanic congregations and 40-50 Afrikkan congregations besides many, many more minorities from across the world.


In 1924 Immigration quotas were placed by American law on Asia and Mexico. In 1965 those quotas were removed because of blatant racism and discrimination. After nearly a 100 years Discrimination and Racial Redistricting are now under review by the courts as to their unconstitutionality and need to be removed (2017).

Immigrants come to America with the training and knowledge they have (or have never received). 75% of Indians come with advance degrees; Hispanics come with nearly none showing the poverty of education and training in their countries due to many reasons; and Africans come with the same poverty - BUT because they come on student Visa's they use these to earn degrees from American universities to then rival Indian immigrants in skills and trades in the job markets. (This seems fairly typical of the Chicago cab drivers I speak too as they both work and go to school).

Every state in the US has seen a 20 year growth of population diversity over traditional white populations. Currently, Texas and California have more non-whites as a majority population. America is quickly catching up. By 2050 America will no longer have a majority population but be a patchwork of many tongues and nations.

This is development is known as pluralism - thus placing strategic importance on the need to think critically in globalistic terms as versus setting up nationalistic barriers to globalism as presently occurring across Westernized nations.


We all know the dictim that with immigration comes religious change. This is true. There will be more non-Christian faiths coming into America as more immigrants pour into a land begun by dispossessed people groups. BUT, because of immigration, Christianity is growing again. Without the influx of immigration into America and across the world Christianity in America was going the way of Europe into non-existence. So the additional adage: "Immigrants bring to America their Christian faith but there will also be more diversity within the Christian faith as a result of its many kinds of believers and their Christian beliefs." In summary, there will be more religious diversity in America but there will also be more diversity within Christianity as it continues to grow from immigrants coming into America.

What does this mean? Respective to America, the people of this land are witnessing yet another Great Awakening. This would be the fifth spiritual revival to date beginning in the early colonial days with activist-preachers demanding spiritual reform: #1 - Jonathan Edwards, #2 - George Whitfield, #3 - D.L. Moody, #4 - then, starting in the 1960s with Billy Graham and going forward, an awakening within Protestant Bible churches as they split off from their Mainline Denominations in rapid evangelical growth; and, finally #5 - by immigrant populations spreading the gospel as they come into America and across the world having become dispossessed of their own homelands by incessant war, persecution, drought or other natural crisis, lack of education and opportunity, etc! (cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Awakening).

A final observation to conclude all: The three largest Christian countries are America #1, Brazil #2, and China #3. Of the three China will shortly take over the #1 spot in the next decade or two.

On the docket for next week's third discussion: a Nigerian born Pentecostal pastor living in GRR and planting a dozen Afrikkan congregations. Week four will conclude with how denominational and creedal theology is changing and perculating under challenging new ideas. Over the past six years I have been writing of these deep fundamental changes here at this blogsite of Relevancy22. Thank you for your engagement over this time!

R.E. Slater
April 15, 2017
edited April 16, 2017