“For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers.”
From an unknown “disciple of the apostles” to Diognetus in the second century
Michael Zielenziger, on the impact of Protestant Christianity on South Korea:
It had never dawned on me that the role religion played could prove so decisive in altering a people’s attitudes toward self-esteem, individuation, or communal responsibility. Nothing in my background of disposition as an American Jew prepared me to accept that the rise of Western religion—and especially the Protestant Church—had served as a vital force crucial in transforming South Korean society. It may be too simple to argue that exposure to Christianity alone has changed Korean consciousness. Yet the churches have coached the Korean people in forming social networks, building trust among strangers, and accepting universal ethics and individualism in ways that served as powerful antidotes to the autocratic worldview their grandparents…had been taught.
Michael Zielenziger, Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation, 261. Quoted in Silence and Beauty by Makoto Fujimura, 175.
What does a pastor need from a deacon in order for the entire church to advance? The editor of Lifeway’s Deacon Magazine asked me to answer that question in their Fall 2013 issue. You can find it here:
(Click the little box with an arrow and you’ll get a large enough image to read the print)
One of the most common assumptions about Christianity is that it is Western and Anglo, and therefore mission outreach is just Western colonialism in another guise. In reality, the first missionaries were Jewish men and women convinced that God had visited his creation in person and redeemed us from our sins. That message spread from Judea south into Africa, east into Asia, west into Spain, and north into Europe. It hopped over the English Channel into the British Isles and then from there made its way into America. Thus Westerners were the recipients of missionary outreach long before they were the agents of missionary outreach. In fact, international missions work is increasingly being taken up by Christians in non-Western countries like Korea and Brazil.
In Tim Keller’s latest book, Making Sense of God, he highlights this reality:
One of the unique things about Christianity is that it is the only truly worldwide religion. Over 90 percent of Muslims live in a band from Southeast Asia to the Middle East and Northern Africa. Over 95 percent of all Hindus are in India and immediate environs. Some 88 percent of Buddhists are in East Asia. However, about 25 percent of Christians live in Europe, 25 percent in Central and South America, 22 percent in Africa, 15 percent (and growing fast) in Asia, and 12 percent in North America. Professor Richard Bauckham writes: “Almost certainly Christianity exhibits more cultural diversity than any other religion, and that must say something about it.” As we have seen, Christianity has been growing explosively in Asia and Africa for over a century now. It is no longer a Western religion (nor was it originally). It is truly a world religion.
Even in its beginnings, the movement of Jesus followers spread out in all directions outward from its Middle Eastern origins, not only to Europe but also to North Africa, to Turkey and Armenia, to Persia and India. “Christianity was a world religion long before it was a European one.”
(Pages 148 and 229, quoting Richard Bauckham, Jesus: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2011).