Communicating Faith

The last couple of posts have focused on the theme of cross-cultural Christianity.  The Christian faith has been re-translated and communicated across many cultures over the past two thousand years.  Because Christianity has no privileged culture that carries the faith, it has been the responsibility of Christians to share the gosepl of Jesus Christ and then allow other cultures to translate and communicate the gospel in a way that is true and authentic to who they are.  This process is messy, unpredictable and dependent on the Holy Spirit because there is no guarantee that people will “get it right”.  What if they screw it up, fail to say it right or communicate it in a way that makes no sense to us?  What if they use different ideas, language, idioms and concepts to re-translate the gospel?  Is it possible for the gospel to move from culture to culture to culture while maintaining the unity of the faith and being true to the Jesus narrative without also carrying the language, ideas, concepts and idioms of the previous culture that “got it right”?

I will leave you with the following three creeds that represent three cultural approaches to the gospel:  The Apostles Creed (one of the earliest if not the earliest creed of the faith), The Nicene Creed (created out of the trinitarian controversies of the fourth century), The Maasai Creed (created by the Maasai tribe of Africa in the nineteenth century)

Apostles Creed: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:  Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell.  The third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;  from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.

Nicene Creed: I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.  And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.  Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.  And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.  And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Maasai Creed: A man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village,  who left his home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the  power of God, until finally he was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed  hands and feet to a cross, and died. He lay buried in the  grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day he rose from  the grave. We are waiting for Him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.

So who got it right?

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