Sunday, May 11, 2008


Covered the history of the evangelical movement from the Wesley brothers and Jonathan Edwards to 20th C. movements around the globe. We ended in South Korea with Paul Yonggi Cho. This was a class that I wish would have been in a semester format, rather than the quarter format. It felt like we were flying through everything – including the reading. I could barely keep up – and then I gave up after the required reflection papers on the reading were turned in. By that time we were knee-deep in reading for the final 15-20 page paper on the topic of our choosing.
  • My final paper was on Walter Rauschenbusch, leader of the social gospel in the early 20th C. I spent a lot of time reading biographies and articles on the man, as well as many of his writings that included his theology for the social gospel. I discovered that I didn’t necessarily agree 100% with all of his beliefs/theories re: the social gospel. But I did learn a great deal about working for the justice of the poor and oppressed. I was left wrestling with the question: what’s the balance between believing the Kingdom of God is already here now and believing that we are working for the Kingdom of God that is yet coming? How much change can be effected now and how much change do we wait for? Tenets of the social gospel are not what I was taught growing up but there is truth and worth in them - a balance needs to be found. As Rauschenbusch said, “The Kingdom is always, but coming.”
    • Book I recommend: Biography on Walter Rauschenbusch by Paul Minus.
  • Those of us with AG roots trace those to Azusa, which is 25 minutes from Fuller. How many Pentecost Sundays did I see the illustration about the Azusa Street Revival? I don’t know – quite a few. Now I have the rest of the story, I guess you could say. Granted, it wouldn’t have been that hard to find a book about the whole event to read up on it but alas, I decided to pay a large sum of money for a class. (I guess that could be the case for any of these classes I am taking – there must be something more to this learning than just reading.) Knowing that the AG is and has been predominantly led by white men in the U.S. since its inception is one thing – but to actually stop and consider in class and in readings how racist it was...well, it could drive me crazy if I let it. I’m still AG. What the Pentecost Sunday illustration never told us was that the similar things were happening around the world around the same time. Americans like to take credit for everything. And granted, the Azusa revival was a significant event in the evangelical church in America and it did lead to the formation of denominations including the AG but let's remember there is a whole globe to explore.
  • Who is an evangelical? Anyone who believes that lives need to be changed (conversion), the expression of the gospel in effort (activisim), regard for the Bible (biblicism) and stress on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (cross-centered). Are there Christians out there who are these things but wouldn’t call themselves evangelicals (especially in America)? And vice versa, are there Christians who call themselves evangelicals but don’t look like the four things above?
  • What happens when the number of evangelical Christians in non-Western Churches outnumber those in the Western Churches? Wait, do they already? What happens when the Western Church looks at the world through that paradigm? What if we’re not in control of something?
  • Are short-term mission trips a good thing? Effective?

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