Monday, August 21, 2006

A Word from The Bishop, not the white guy from Durham who lives in a castle but the dark-skinned brotha from Kampala, Uganda, Rt. Rev. Dr. David Zac Niringiye.

This interview is a prime example of the exegetical/hermeneutical payoff received by reading/listening to those inhabiting different social locations (particularly, the margins) and why we should sit at their feet a while.

"God very often is working most powerfully far from the center. Jesus is crucified outside Jerusalem—outside—with the very cynical sign over his head, "The King of the Jews." Surprise—he is the King of the Jews. "We had hoped … " say the disappointed disciples on the road to Emmaus, but he did not fulfill our criteria. In Acts, we read that the cross-cultural missionary thrust did not begin in Jerusalem. It began in Antioch, on the periphery, the margins. But Jerusalem is not ready for Antioch! In fact, even when they go to Antioch, it's just to check on what's happening.

I have come to the conclusion that the powerful, those at the center, must begin to realize that the future shape of things does not belong to them. The future shape of things is on the periphery. The future shape of things is not in Jerusalem, but outside. It is Nazareth. It is Antioch.

If you really want to understand the future of Christianity, go and see what is happening in Asia, Africa, Latin America. It's the periphery—but that's where the action is."

It is so refreshing to have highlighted for you, aspects of the biblical text to which we may be positively indisposed and prone to miss due to our different lenses/life questions et al.

(HT: Sibboleth)

Read the complete post.


jason said...

What do you think the "payoff" is hermeneutically? On my first read it seems to be small change.

His hermeneutic seems to disregard the redemptive-historical context of Acts. Of course they say "we had hoped," because they had mistaken messianic expectations. To say that the cross-cultural missionary thrust didn't begin in Jerusalem is, I suppose, one way to put it, although I doubt Luke would agree. Since the point of the book is what Jesus continued to do through the Spirit, and since that work was picked up in Jerusalem (Acts 1:8), I think Luke is saying that the cross-cultural missionary thrust (an interest of Luke's if ever he had one) absolutely DID begin in Jerusalem.

His reading of the text doesn't seem to be too far off of the sort of application that reads David and Goliath as being about the "giants in your life." After all, he's a bishop. So I assume he's talking to the big boys in his worldwide communion and saying "hey fellas, there's something going on over here." No doubt he's right that there is something going on, but in my opinion what is going on doesn't have a lot to do with the attitude of the Jerusalem church. I think he's basically using a couple of pericopes in Acts as an analogy or parable for what is going on in his own church. He may have a point, but it doesn't seem to be Luke's.

Mark Robinson said...

I had to go back and read the article. I think the hermenetical payoff is in having 'persepctives' highlighted by someone who sits in a different place than us on the whole, someone who sits on the margins and sees unwitting triumphalism in the West. For instance, we highlight "go and make" as a missions call over "come follow...take up the cross", do we not? That type of insight may be considered small change but I think it is a big payday in terms of reading the Scripture from the perspective closest to its human authors.

Not sure how his hermeneutic of Acts is explicitly non-RH. Tha may be true but his comments on Jerusalem & Antioch don't prove the case, at least to mymind. Jerusalem was a Jewish church and Antioch a diverse cross-sultural one were they not? I'd have to go back and read early Acts. On that assumption, Antioch was the first cross-cultural Church we know of I think. Mission began in Jerusalem but Cross-cultural mission began in Antioch it appears. The Bishop is making an empirical observation about the ethnic makeup of Jerusalem and Antioch, not a RH one it seems to me.