Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.



I am intrigued by this statement by Soong-Chan Rah, author of The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity (which I have not read), as I do think that any real cross-cultural engement must be on a level playing field as to our common humanity, honoring those from other cultures as made in the image of God. One does not need to become a Westerner to become a Christian:
Last year I was speaking at a mission conference comprised mainly of white suburbanite participants. I was listening to the speaker before me, when he dropped this little gem: 'It's not about a handout, but a hand up.' Actually, it's not about either. A handout means you think you're better than me and you're handing me something (something I probably don't deserve). A hand up means you think you're better than me and you're trying to lift me up from a bad place to your wonderful place.

Actually, if it's a choice between the two, I'd rather have the handout. If you're going to be condescening, I might as well get a direct benefit out of it instead of being told that I need to become like you.

Forget the hand out or the hand up. Just reach a hand across. Let's be equals and partners. I don't need you to rescue me, just like you don't think you need rescuing by me. My rescuer is a Jewish carpenter. I want to be a co-laborer in Christ with you, not your reclamation project.
If we treat others as equals, then we can learn more of God through the relationship, rather than falling into the unchecked assumption that we are bringing Christ to someone to whom he is not already present.


  • At 1/21/2010 8:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Beautifully said!! The superior & condescending attitude of denominational churches in the West is one of the reasons I practice my personal Christianity in fellowship with the Creator and the worldwide brother- and sisterhood. And pray that one day we may all reach our hands across to one another as true equals.

  • At 1/22/2010 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well said. I said it much less eloquently when I basically offended everyone on Facebook a while back in reference to the Native American Outreach stuff.



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