More Side Effects
There's an interesting article on
the cover of the June 30,2003 issue of Time magazine, entitled"Should
Muslims" it discusses whether Christians should
proselytize in Muslim countries. It discusses the missionary calling
and how some missionaries may be doing more harm than good in the
places where they are. I find it interesting that it's the first mainstream
publication which addresses the emerging missions movement. It is
of the first mainstream publications which gives mention to Ralph
Winter. Dr Winter is one of the founders of the "Perspectives
in World Christianity and Missions" course which is being taught
in evangelical churches nationwide. It explains tentmaking.
The article clearly shows what Christians view as the 10-40 window
some missions organizations have done.
In addition, it critically
questions the work of some organizations asking whether they're
doing more harm than good. It references a rather public example of
and Dayna Curry. They were"Christian Aid workers" who's
actions resulted in them being imprisoned by the Taliban. Although
to it as an "abduction" and the subsequent public "rescue" resulted
in congratulations by President Bush, one of the lasting consequences
of their actions all of the Western relief organizations being expelled
from Afghanistan. They were only let back in after the US military
toppled the Taliban government.
Even though the article specifically addresses Christian
missionaries in Muslim nations, it has some bearing on how
Christianity will become
part of the modern Chinese culture. The concern, is that in the rush
to enter the modern era, China has also replicated the modern horrors
which plagued the West as it emerged into the Industrial Age. One
can only hope that the mistakes made; such as pollution, child labor,
of the proletariat/working class, corruption, social injustice,
and a devaluation of human dignity; that these mistakes will not be
SMIC and its charismatic CEO, Richard
Chang, may well be a beacon of hope in China. As a technology
executive he brings modernization, as
an unashamed Christian, he brings the Word of God. China is a nation
which will emerge into the 21st century modern world power, it would
be a shame if went through all these changes, but still emerged soulless
Civilization has its side effects
Critics have long accused Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL International
of damaging indigenous cultures even as they create written forms for native
languages. They have also been (falsely) accused of being a cover for the
CIA and American oil operations in Latin America. (The most strident criticisms
can be found in out-of-print books such as David Stoll's Fishers of Men
or Founders of Empire: The Wycliffe Bible Translators in Latin America
Colby and Charlotte Dennett's Thy Will Be Done: The Conquest of the Amazon:
Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil.) Their main purpose
is to translate God's Word into the "heart language" of the people.
This week The New York Times Magazine joined earlier critics as Ron
Suskind chronicled Wycliffe-induced cultural changes among the Ibitan
people on tiny Babuyan Claro, separated from the Philippine mainland
by 100 miles of choppy sea. Suskind writes with a much lighter touch
than some earlier Wycliffe critics. But he resorts to the Rousseauian
myth of the bon sauvage.
The Ibatan passed the decades in a kind of serenity.
Though they did dispense with a few unlucky visitors, they were otherwise
wore clothes of pounded bark and found herbal remedies in python gallbladders.
Their world evolved with a gentle, premodern rhythm—until the
day, in 1977, when a 29-year-old missionary named Rundell Maree slipped
a boat into the water, carrying his shortwave radio overhead …
Of course, everything is downhill from there. Rundell Maree brought
them a clean water system (which destroyed the communal interchanges
at the island's springs), he brought them their own history in writing
(which destroyed their peaceful sense of timelessness and turned some
of them into driven achievers), and he brought them the material things
of civilization (which created a division between the haves and have-nots).
Oh yes, he brought them the Bible, too. Suskind barely mentions the main
reason for Wycliffe's work.
Suskind pads his prose with references to Karl Marx, Max Weber, and
Alexis de Toqueville. With jaundiced eye, he interprets the creation
of wealth into the makings of class struggle. Curiously, he never produces
any evidence of actual class struggle beyond garden-variety covetousness.
New York Times Article