Friday, 10 June 2011

Pentecost and Mission

Had an enjoyable couple of hours preparing to preach two sermons on Acts 2 this weekend.  Came across this from Justo Gonzales in his Acts: The Gospel of the Spirit.  Liked it.  Thought you might like it as well.
In order to have the multitude understand what the disciples of Jesus were saying the Holy Spirit had two options: one was to make all understand the Aramaic the disciples spoke; the other was to make each understand in their own tongue.  Significantly the Spirit chooses the latter route.  This has important consequences for the way we understand the place of culture and language in the Church.  Had the Spirit made all the listeners understand the language of the apostles, we would be justified in a centripetal understanding of mission, one in which all who come in are expected to be like those who invite them.  However, because what the Spirit did was exactly the opposite, this leads us to a centrifugal understanding of mission, one in which as the gospel moves toward new languages and new cultures, it is ready to take forms that are understandable within those languages and cultures.  In other words, had there been an “Aramaic only” movement in first-century Palestine, Pentecost was a resounding no! to that movement.  And it is still a resounding no! to any movement within the Church that seeks to make all Christians think alike, speak alike, and behave alike.  The first translator of the gospel is the Holy Spirit, and a church that claims to have the Holy Spirit must be willing to follow that lead,  That is why it has correctly been stated that whereas Babel was a monument to human pride, the Church is called to be a monument to the humiliation of any who seek to make their language or culture dominant.

1 comment:

Catriona said...

I do! Thank you.

Amusing that the magic word to type in to send this comment is 'foriner'... seems to alomost fit!