Wednesday, May 21, 2008

When Making Disciples Doesn't Seem Right

Right now I'm reading a completely AWESOME book called Blood and Thunder. Basically it's about Kit Carson, a mountain man/scout for the US Government and the "conquest of the American West." Its very well written, intriguing, and I would suggest it to anyone. But thats not the point. A large part of the book is about the complete destruction of the American Indian and their way of life. There are many things that bother me about this, including American's "Manifest Destiny" and just the complete lack of respect for the Native American culture as a whole.

But the biggest issue I have is the fact that the Anglo's (thats me!) were out to Christianize the Indians. I know full and well that Jesus told us to go make disciples of all nations, but in many cases, doesn't that mean destroying an entire culture??? I mean a major part of the Native American way of life is their rituals and their gods, so wouldn't becoming a Christian nation completely wipe that out? And in fact it did, as they were forced into shabby patches of land and told to become farmers. (In the American sense). None of it seems right to me, and I kind of feel the same way about missionaries in Africa. Not that they don't have entirely good intentions, but maybe we just try to do too much. Instead of just going and teaching them about Jesus, we also try to make them live like us. We should instead celebrate these different cultures instead of ruining them. Any thoughts? Ideas? Hopefully I explained that well enough.


jch said...

You're on to something here, Jeremy. We (westerners and more specifically, Americans) have a very small idea of what it means to be a follower of God. And we've forced this small idea upon many. We say to them (whether Indians or Africans), "You must understand God how we understand God and that, naturally, leads to living like us." Ugh. Give me a break. No wonder so many are turned off by the Christian message. It's not been portrayed well and still isn't in many place. Lord, save us from ourselves.

Keep parsing out these thoughts of yours as they will lead you to some new and exciting places regarding your understanding of God.

Brown Sugar said...

hmm...very thoughtful.......i don't have any new thoughts but I would recommend you watch this great series that I watched a few years ago...It was called Into The seemed to be a very good depiction of the American westward movement....I was bitter toward the white man afterwards...but it was very moving. anyway, i'll try and form some other thoughts on the subject

The Future said...

The problem was that "chistianizing" was just a side fact. It all began with the "conquistadors" who, by their name, were not out to christianize anyone. If we had only sent missionaries over, it would have been good.

Are you for human sacrifice if its just a way of life for these people? Taking away their idols takes away their way of life?

I think you're onto something, but I don't think Christianity is to blame. Its the lack of it that the early conquerors and pioneers had.

And is Africa in such a bad place with Christianity? It seems to be an improvement, and we aren't taking their lands from them. I don't see this as an issue. Did you know there are more churches in Africa than in America? There are also many africans that are becoming missionaries, even coming here. Crazy, right?

Deanna said...

Hey! I have been meaning to post on this because since mission work is what I plan to do with my life I do have an opinion.

I dont know much about the white man taking over the indians except that it was awful but I do know that in my training as a missionary we are taught how to bring Jesus to them in their own culture. When I go to Chile my team does not plan on starting an American/Western church there. We want to help Chilean people create a Chilean church that reflects both God and their culture. It's not like Jesus was a Westerner, we have just warped the church into something it was never meant to be.

And yet aren't we called to be counter-cultural in some ways? Culture has many beautiful things about it but some are very sinful, just like in the American culture. It is a super hard balance to find between perserving a culture and teaching people about Jesus, but all we can do is try our best and know that God's grace covers all.

What do you think after these couple of posts people have put up?