Saturday, January 20, 2007

Departure from Culture

I'm reading a new book. Exclusion & Embrace, by Miroslav Volf (Director, Center for Faith and Culture, Yale Divinity School):
Great thick, challenging theological read.
He makes some very significant points but one that stood out for me today was the thought that Abraham's call to 'depart' from his culture (religious beliefs, extended family, business, controllable future etc...) is the same call that Christians experience when they hear Jesus. It creates a sort of 'distance' from our culture, but in a new Testament context the distance isn't always a physical one - it's an internal one. We are 'strangers' in this world.

"Their 'strangeness' results not from the negative act of cutting all ties, but from the positive act of giving allegiance to God and God's promised future. Stepping out of their culture, they do not float in some indeterminate space, looking at the world from everywhere and anywhere. Rather with one foot planted in their own culture and the other in God's future - internal difference - they have a vantage point from which to perceive and judge the self and the other not simply on their own terms but in the light of God's new world - a world in which a great multitude 'from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages' is gathered 'before the throne and before the Lamb'."

internal difference... what is that? how do I foster it in my own life? How can I have one foot planted in the world and the other in God's future... how do I live out the reality of the Kingdom in a hostile world... do I even have enough distance from my culture to see how it influences me more than God?

Some questions I'm asking right now.

Here's a link to the Religious and Ethics News Review (you can view an interview with him if you'd like).

1 comment:

aaron white said...

This may be why the church (ekklessia) means called out. We are called to be displaced (Nouwen has some great thoughts on this in his book Compassion).

There is a certain aspect in which we are called to be physically displaced (to follow Christ as a refugess, as homeless), but another spiritual sense in which we are called to be displaced in the spiritual, citizens not of the Kingdom of the world, but of the Kingdom of God.