Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Unity is bad for Human Health

Whilst sitting in on a lecture on Gen 11, I was struck by Tim's remarks concerning the way human unity is always bad for someone.  Unity is always at the expense of someone, usually a minority.  For example in Iraq, Sudan and Burma conflict is occuring primarily because some factions are trying to bring unity to a geographical area where other resident factions exist which want to maintain their diversity (or bring a different sort of unity).

In NZ there is a popular polemic against difference that suggests everyone in NZ is simply Kiwi, but of course what they mean is that those in ethnic minorities should simply confrom to the majority (pakeha/european).  In conversation with a Maori Christian leader I was told that the churches are always saying to Maori that we should be one in Christ, but the Maori response is "one what?"  Because the implicit message they receive is that to have unity they need to become european.  And yet Christ's prayer in John 17 was for the unity of his church and in Acts 2, 13, Eph 2-4 and Rev 5, (among many others) we are confronted with a vision of a church where in difference and diversity there is unity around Christ. 

And as if that wasn't enough, today we had a Kenyan missionary to NZ speaking and who told us that using other languages and singing the odd song from a different culture wasn't enough but he wanted the church to be interested in the "way" he wanted to worship as an African and that once a year they should let him lead worship.  So I had this vision of him stood up front of his Kiwi church exhorting them to be temporarily more African which I just couldn't see going well.

My hunch is that true multicultural church needs to follow the model of Antioch (Acts 13) and have multicultural leadership.  Are there any churches out there today that are truly managing to be multicultural?  If so what do they look like and how do they do it?

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