Saturday, October 10, 2009

God-sized patience is needed to deal with cultural differences

"Well-meaning people can cause major worldview problems when they introduce good changes and apply them at the surface level without due attention to the deep-level meanings people attach to them. For example, the missionary requirement that Africans with more than one wife must divorce the "extras" before they can be baptized leads both Christian and non-Christian Africans to certain worldview assumptions concerning the Christian God. Among these are: God is against the real leaders of African society, God is not in favor of women having help and companionship around the home, God wants men to be enslaved to a single wife..., and God favors divorce, social irresponsibility and even prostitution. None of these conclusions is irrational or far-fetched from their point of view. Though we believe God intends that each man have only one wife, this change was forced too quickly, unlike God's patient approach in the Old Testament where He took many generations to do away with the custom."
(Charles H. Kraft, 'Culture, Worldview and Contextualization', in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, Fourth Edition, ed., Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, p. 403).

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