Michael Haykin is one of my favourite Church historians and I am often encouraged and helped by what he says. Today, he posted the following call on Facebook:
This kind of realization is the impetus behind our family’s direction and is the reason that I am here studying in the UK. I would only add two comments to what Dr. Haykin says here:
First, this is not limited to church historians. (Not that he is limiting it that way, it is more just what he is focused on.) We also need to work to see that word of Christ dwells richly among all of us. The Bible needs to be heard and received well within every language and culture on this planet. The whole Church needs people who can both hear what the Scriptures are saying and work to acclimatize their own culture to its message. Translation is only the beginning of that process.
Second, I would suggest that his comments are missing a note of reciprocity. You could read this and still have the impression that the church of the West has it together while the Majority World church is behind and looking to us so that they can catch up. I don’t think Dr. Haykin intends it this way and I do think that our church (along with its traditions and resources) has a lot to offer. But the Majority World church has a lot to offer as well. The posture of the Global Church is not the West as master and the rest as padawan. It is a family standing before God on equal terms and sharing the same mission. As Andrew Walls recently said:
There is every prospect of the twenty-first century becoming a period of major theological expansion, revealing to us from the Scriptures more of who Christ is. It is vital for the good of both theology and the whole church that theological activity be intercontinental in each of the constituent disciplines—biblical studies, church history, systematic theology, practical theology, and the borderlands with philosophy and the social sciences.
That is an exciting prospect for all of these disciplines and the broader church which they serve. We are aimed at the Majority World church not only so that we can chip in, but also to be a bridge so that the churches which sent us can learn and benefit as well.