Suffering for Faith Shapes Your Faith

Philip Jenkins in his book, The Next Christendom describes how the population center of Christianity is moving to the Southern Hemisphere. In the January 29, 2008 issue of Christian Century, there is a brief article about the condition of Christian groups in India.

“The Roman Catholic Church, the ecumenical All India Christian Council and other church groups issued the joint appeal. They said more than 60 churches have been torched, some 600 Christians’ houses burned down and more than 5,000 Chrstians dispalced due to the orchestrated anti-chrsitan violence in and around Kandhamal.”

This is just one example of places in this world where to be a Christian places you in danger. My question is how does viewing the Gospel from such a context shape what you hear. What type of Good News do you hear when you hear the Gospel in such a setting? Further, if the numerical majority of Chrstians are living in conditions of poverty, violence, and at times persecution, what is going to be their message to the churches who have lived for generations in a more comfortable setting. Are we going to have our traditional understandings of Scripture challenged in a way that raises questions about who we are as Christians.

We are already beginning to experience some of that challenge as we experience the issues raised within the Anglican community with respect to Episcopal Church’s stand regarding sexuality. I confess to not being comfortable with some of the ways in which some African bishops are declaring their perspective on the Gospel. As the power shifts within the world Christian community, we may discover what it means to be in a minority as we seek to understand the Gospel.

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