20 Quotes from Soong-Chan Rah’s book The Next Evangelicalism

1. “Diametrically opposed to the characteristics of mobility, and a spiritual numbness and apathy arising from mobility, are the characteristics of the body of Christ. Instead of upward mobility, there is the doctrine of the incarnation. Instead of a seeking of comfort through geographic and technological mobility, there is Jesus’ willingness to suffer and die on the cross. Mobility may be a high value in our contemporary culture, but the value of the kingdom of God and the example of Jesus Christ is the incarnation. The doctrine of the incarnation stands in opposition to our obsession with mobility” (Soong-Chan Rah, The Next Evangelicalism, 151)

2. “The American church needs to face the inevitable and prepare for the next stage of her history—we are looking at a nonwhite majority, multiethnic American Christianity in the immediate future” (p.The Next Evangelicalism, 12).

3. “European and North American Christianity continue to decline, while African, Asian and Latin-American Christianity continue to increase dramatically. In the year 1900, Europe and North America comprised 82 percent of the world’s Christian population. In 2005, Europe and North America comprised 39 percent of the world’s Christian population with Africa, Asian and Latin American Christians making up 60 percent of the world’s Christian population. By 2050, African, Asian and Latin American Christian will constitute 71 percent of the world’s Christian population” (p. 13).

4. “A personalism and a prioritizing of the individual can be found at the socialhistorical roots of evangelicalism. Life and ministry in the local church, therefore, became the race to please the individual so that the pews might be filled” (p. 30).

5. “It is important… to make the distinction between the negative impact of an excessive individualism found in Western culture versus the healthy role of individualism. Individualism is a valuable Western philosophical, psychological contribution which allows for the healthy and necessary differentiation of the individual from family/society/culture/people groups/nations. Individuation allows individuals to grow up and make their own decisions—not based solely upon the pressures of society. Individuation allows for an important and necessary process of developing a personal relationship with Jesus. Individuation, therefore, reveals an important aspect of the individual expressions of faith and the need for individual salvation. God is not only a transcendent God that is beyond our comprehension, God is also an immanent God—nearby, close and personal. The individuation of our relationship with God and the personal appropriation of God’s grace are crucial developments of the Christian faith” (p. 31).

6. “American society is shaped by the philosophy of the primacy of the individual over and above the community. Individualism guides the American way of life” (p. 37).

7. “How we approach counseling in the church is a highly individualized approach reflecting a personalized psychology” (p. 37).

8. “How substantially different would the church look if we measured success on the basis of the parable of the sheep and the goats of Matthew 25 or the self-sacrificial community of Acts 2 instead of measuring success based upon cultural values of consumerism and materialism” (p. 58).

9. “When meeting the materialistic needs of the individual becomes the central expression of the church, there will be short-term productivity but with negative long-term consequences” (p. 62).

10. “Market-driven church that appeals to the materialistic desires of the individual consumer has resulted in a comfortable church, but not a biblical church. The church’s captivity to materialism has resulted in the unwillingness to confront sins such as economic and racial injustice and has produced consumers of religions rather than followers of Jesus” (p. 63).

11. “Immigrant and ethnic minority churches are restoring spiritual vitality and fervor oftentimes missing in many white evangelical churches” (p. 75).

12. “Evangelicals claim Scripture as having primary authority in a believer’s life and conduct. What then, is the biblical response to the issue of immigration? In my study of Scripture, I have yet to find a single passage which supports the right to bear arms (I’m not arguing against the right to bear arms, I’m just saying I can’t find a biblical reference regarding the right to bear arms.) I have, however, found numerous references (close to one hundred) calling believers to care for the alien among them. Why is it, then, that I am more likely to find members of the National Rifle Association in a typical American evangelical church than I am to find those who advocate for an immigration policy that shows compassion for the immigrant among us? How much of our view on immigration is driven by a political and social agenda rather than a biblical one?” (p. 75).

13. “Theology emerging from a Western, white context is considered normative, it places non-Western theology in an inferior position and elevates Western theology as the standard by which all theological frameworks and points of view are measured. This bias stifles the theological dialogue between the various cultures” (p. 78).

14. “Racism divides human community by elevating one race as the standard by which all other races should be judged, thereby placing the dominant race in the position of God” (p. 82).

15. “Humanity was made in the image of God. While our Western individualism will focus our attention on the personal reflection of the imago Dei in the individual, we need to see the image of God expressed as a corporate reflection” (p. 133).

16. “When the American church looks toward an ethnically and culturally diverse future, oftentimes we believe that those who currently have the wealth, power and privilege will be the ones who will serve and lead those who are without. It is the assumption that the ‘haves’ have much to offer while the ‘have-nots’ have little to offer” (p. 144).

17. “Despite… hunger for community, a strident individualism coupled with a rapidly-advancing technology creates individuals who long for community but lack the sufficient tools to build that community” (p. 150). 

18. “A conservative estimate of pre-Columbus Native Americans is approximately ten to twelve million. But by 2000, only two million self-declared Native American lived in the United States, while another 1.3 million live in Canada. These numbers reflect a systematic destruction of entire people groups” (p. 156). 

19. “If you are a white Christian wanting to be a missionary in this day and age, and you have never had a nonwhite mentor, then you will not be a missionary. You will be a colonialist. Instead of taking the gospel message into the world, you will take an Americanized version of the gospel” (p. 162).

20. “Are we willing to acknowledge that the immigrant church that appears to be a people in need, might actually have something to teach us?” (p. 179).

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