SCAPPOOSE, Ore. – The Gap Between God and Christianity comes out of decades of observing Western Christianity in the United States, Europe and non-Western Christianity in Africa, Korea, and Native America and years of teaching applied cultural anthropology and intercultural communication. Through it all, the author came to own a deep concern for today’s churches, Christian schools, and mission agencies. It seems we have ignored this monster of culture and that ours has played tricks on us, invading our way of thinking about God, godliness, and ministry. It is time to close the gap.
This book speaks to the interference of our Western culture in the reading and responding to God’s Word. Until recent times, Christians have not paid attention to the effects of culture on people, especially their own on them. But this has been our error and weakness as Western people in understanding ourselves and others in the world around us. A further result is that we have neglected to see that reading the Bible is a cross-cultural experience, and we are ill-prepared for it. The Gap Between God and Christianity exposes this serious distortion and opens our understanding of the influence of our culture on our Christian lives and when we read the Bible.
As Western people, we are attracted to information over wisdom and logic over relationships. We like to boil down the text to its one truth or principle that we can state in a propositional way. A process of distilling and extraction that fits our culturally shaped purposes or our theological system but often misses the intent in the original cultural context because it is not ours. It is to know God, his grace, and his providence, to live life in love, truth, and freedom.
We have a Western prescription in our cultural lenses, helping us interpret our experience and communication in our own situation but distorting the meaning of experience and communication in other cultures, including the Bible. If we let it, it creates a gap between us and God’s intentions for us in His Word. Although it is a sort of high treason to talk about culture’s influence on us individualists, it is time we met God on his own terms and let him speak for himself. The Gap Between God and Christianity helps us cross the chasm.