Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church (Book Notes)

Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church (Moody, 2010) by Soong-Chan Rah

Book Cover

In Many Colors, Soong-Chan Rah aims to equip local churches and their leaders to be better adapted to becoming multiethnic churches by developing cultural intelligence. Cultural intelligence and understanding how culture operates in a church community are foundational to any hopes and efforts at building a multicultural church. 

The book has three parts. Part I, Understanding Culture, lays the foundation for the rest of the book. It seeks a working definition of culture from a biblical worldview perspective. After drawing from different views of culture, including a biblical perspective, Rah arrives at this definition of culture:

So what is culture? It is a human attempt to understand the world around us. It is the programming that shapes who we are and who we are becoming. It is a social system that is shaped by the individual and that also has the capacity to shape the individual. But it is also the presence of God, the image of God, the mission of God found in the human spirit, soul, and social system. (p. 38)

Continue reading “Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church (Book Notes)”

Four Models of Racial Reconciliation

Black&White Handshake - Still_from_the_film_Colour_Blind_(2009) via Wikipedia
Black&White Handshake – Still_from_the_film_Colour_Blind_(2009) via Wikipedia

From my experience, I have found that many disagreements around racial issues revolve around differences between the participants’ definition of what counts as racism and what does not. Hence, I have found George Yancey’s book, Beyond Racial Gridlock: Embracing Mutual Responsibility (IVP 2006), helpful in this regard. Yancey, a Christian sociologist at the University of North Texas, describes in the first part of his book two different definitions of racism and four basic models of racial reconciliation that flows out of them. In this blog, I want to briefly outline them for you. Continue reading “Four Models of Racial Reconciliation”

God’s Gift of Church Membership

Open Church Guest Book Image
© Lisa F. Young | Dreamstime Stock Photos

I was generously given a nice little book that I would highly recommend to church pastors as an excellent resource for educating church members of what it means to be a member of a local church. Thom S. Rainer’s I am a Church Member: Discovering the Attitude that Makes the Difference (B&H Publishing, 2013) is short (only 79 pages), straightforward and simple (accessible, not academic) and yet, covers very good ground.

In a market that is increasingly saturated with books targeted at pastors on how to be the ideal church leader, it is important and refreshing that someone wrote a book aimed at the followers. The book is organized into six chapters, each ending with a membership pledge. Continue reading “God’s Gift of Church Membership”

Understanding Biblical Justice

(This is a guest post by Karen Long, a student leader with the Leadership, Culture and Christianity student club at York University)

Book Review: Marshall, Chris. The Little Book of Biblical Justice: A Fresh Approach to the Bible’s Teachings on Justice. Good Books. Intercourse, PA: 2005

In Chris Marshall’s The Little Book of Biblical Justice, Marshall has done an effective job at attempting to explain the complicated and often misunderstood concept of biblical justice. Of course, it goes without saying that the book is not exhaustive, but it allows to whet the reader’s appetite to explore biblical justice further.

Many Christians consider the Bible a source of revelation about social and criminal justice. The Bible helped to shape Western civilization, so it is helpful to explore biblical notions of justice to understand modern day socio-political and judicial thought.

Continue reading “Understanding Biblical Justice”

Cookie-Cutter Spirituality

Two books that I have enjoyed are A Contrarian’s Guide to Knowing God: Spirituality for the Rest of Us by Larry Osborne (Multnomah 2007) and Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God by Gary Thomas (Zondervan 2000). Both books, in their own way, attack the one-size-fits-all spirituality so prevalent in religious circles, including Christianity. Over the years, I have grown disenchanted with the cookie-cutter Christianity approach. I tried hard to fit the mold when I was a younger Christian. My semi-neurotic approval-seeking desire to please others fed into my hard working attempts at conforming to a standard of what a “good” Christian looks like, talks like, acts like, and think like. Then I start realizing that different Christian circles have different expectations or standards or slightly different cookie-cutter shapes. And I tried to conform to those standards too. And failing.

Continue reading “Cookie-Cutter Spirituality”

Political Visions and Illusions

Cover of "Political Visions & Illusions: ...
Cover via Amazon

I believe it is part of my job as a Christian campus chaplain/minister to encourage and empower students in their spiritual and academic journeys. Hence, I am very pleased to have a guest post by Adrian Paris, a fourth-year Political Science major at York University, Toronto. Adrian hails from a Roman Catholic background and from India. I have asked him to read and briefly review David T. Koyzis‘ book, Political Visions & Illusions: A Survey & Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies (IVP, 2003). Here is Adrian’s review.

A book is a mirror: if an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to look out. – C. G. Lichtenberg

For far too long, we have enslaved ourselves to political theories that have, at best, a misguided view of human nature and are, at worst, deliberately deceitful. Our collective journey to uncover the truth about our lives, and the lives of those around us, has often led some of us to accept many answers offered by these political theorists, economists, sociologists and other “experts”,  at face value. 

Continue reading “Political Visions and Illusions”