This is part 2 of a 7 part blog series taking a closer look at the organizational values that CPR-3 uses to drive the decisions that we make. The first blog in this series took a look at how “we believe in a strengths based approach to community development” while this one will address a value that is sometimes hard to achieve.
We wish to be culturally accurate and sensitive while being theologically motivated.
Wow, that is a “mouth full”. For far too many years, mission agencies and missionaries have brought their cultural understanding of the Gospel and have sought to impose it on the culture they are trying to reach for Christ. This is easy to do and somewhat hard to guard against. Let me proceed by laying out an example.
Scripture is clear that “husbands are to love their wives” and in the North American culture, we could all do a pretty good job of saying what that might look like. But does that cultural shading of the biblical command mean that all cultures must see husbands love their wives in the same way. In North America, that means that a husband will walk “hand in hand” with his wife as they walk down the sidewalk. In traditional Japanese culture, it would be more appropriate to have the husband walk ahead of the wife as a sign of protection and leadership. So, which is correct? Beside or in front? I contend that both can be correct. The issue is “love” and its expression can look differently in different contexts.
So does this mean there are no absolutes? Is there no objective standard across cultures to see what it means for husbands to love their wives? I think there is. It is sacrifice, leadership, and protection. All illustrated by Christ in his sacrifice, leadership, and protection of His bride, the church. How does this look in Haiti? We are still trying to figure this out and model it.
I love what our Founder and Executive Director, Dan O’Deens says: “If it is Biblical it is cross-cultural.” We must get back to what Scripture says and not have it say more or less than it does. Striking the balance between culture and theology is not always easy and it’s made harder when we assume that our culture more closely matches the commands of Scripture than another culture.
We must study both, ask a ton of questions, investigate, test, and reevaluate.
To read the first blog in this series, click here.