December 17, 2006

THE TRANSCENDANT TRIBE (via Tom Morin):

A new Jerusalem in sub-Saharan Africa: a review of The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South by Philip Jenkins (Spengler, 12/12/06, Asia Times)

The Bible, and above all the Hebrew Bible, speaks immediately to the new Christians of the global South precisely because their lives are fragile and fraught with danger, Philip Jenkins argues in his most recent book, unlike the complacent and secure Euro-American Christians who find disturbing the actual Bible of blood and redemption. Southern Christians will dominate the religion within a generation or two and, if Jenkins is right, will bring it closer to its original purpose and character.

This observation makes Professor Jenkins' new volume indispensable not only for its understanding of global change, but also for its understanding of what Christianity implies. Southern Christians hold to biblical authority not because they are backward, but because they have embraced the Bible for what it really is. Euro-American Christians who interpret Scripture to suit their evolved cultural tastes are soon-to-be-ex-Christians. [...]

The disintegration of tribal society provides part of the explanation. Another, and more profound, reason for African affinity to the Old Testament may be the influence of North American evangelical currents in African conversion. The missionaries sent by colonial powers - Catholic, Anglican, and to a lesser extent Lutheran - have been overtaken by denominations of North American origin, notably the Pentecostals, who now number 350 million worldwide. US evangelical Christianity, I have tried to show, is unique in its identification with Israel, for Americans selected themselves out from among the nations, and crossed the oceans to come to a New Land in emulation of the Tribes of Israel crossing the Jordan into Canaan. Evangelical Christianity centers on the rebirth of the individual out of his sinful, Gentile origin into Israel, into the People of God, by the miracle of Christ's blood. The prestige of American Christianity more than the mere primitivism of African life may explain why Africans have so little trouble with the Old Testament. [...]

The reason that blood is so important to Christianity (and not just evangelical Christianity) is that the Christian undergoes a change of ethnicity. As Africa emerges from tribalism - if it is to emerge at all - this is decisive. It is the Gentile flesh that is sinful by its nature, and to overcome sin and gain the Kingdom of God, the Christian must be reborn into a new flesh, the flesh of Israel. The blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ is what makes that possible.


Kind of amusing that the nationalism associated with Darwinism leaves Europe more backwards than Christianizing Africa.


Posted by Orrin Judd at December 17, 2006 10:32 AM
Comments

Didn't nationalism precede Darwin?

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at December 17, 2006 12:30 PM

The article is a mess. "The flesh of Israel"?

Posted by: Gideon at December 17, 2006 1:28 PM

Joseph:

No.

Posted by: oj at December 17, 2006 1:48 PM

Gideon: The NT strongly supports supercessionism. Evangelicals know what the Bible says. It doesn't make them anti-Semetic in the slightest; they don't think that Jews are bad, just that they are mistaken.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 17, 2006 7:00 PM
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