The Things that really matter

I found this comment from Thabiti Anyabwile over at 9 Marks very challenging:

“Let’s confront at home the things that we find odd, curious, wrong, shameful, ignorant and unfortunate abroad.  For my money, TBN is a much bigger (popular) problem than the New Perspective and post-modernism.  Maybe 10% of my folks know anything about these things.  Maybe 10%.  But nearly the entire congregation dips into TBN on occasion or has someone who appears on that channel that they appreciate, but who is less than sound on critically important issues.”

It is very easy as pastors and teachers to get caught up in the latest theological debate or ecclesiological methodology.  Now it is important to be aware of what is happening in the wider world, both for edification and for warning.  But are the issues that fuel the theological/methodological wheel necessarily the same dangers or challenges that my context faces.

It is easy to spend most of my time and energy debating the New Perspective or the merits of Emergent/Emerging church – both of which I do.  But what are those dangers and idols that particularly endanger the people I work with?  Surely this is where I ought to be investing my time, energy and study.

Here the top 3 issues for young black South Africans today, as I see it:

1) African Traditional Practices – particularly challenging is the family and community pressure put on young people to conform and not forget their culture or identity.  We have to help them redeem their culture and be secure in their identity as a son or daughter of the Living God and a beloved brother or sister among His people.

2) In post-apartheid South Africa, the lure of materialism and prosperity among young black people is huge.  We have to get them to see the bigger picture.  Both Chrisitan and non-Christian young people must recognise the lie of wealth and materialism and live for the greater God!

3) The prosperity gospel: I have tended to be quite generous and try to find the good of these teaching in the past.  But the more I interact with people – the more I am convinced this is a false gospel leading people astry and pandering to people’s narcissitic, self worship and idolatory.  I was shocked to learn that in the Eastern Cape, TBN is free – without a satellite dish.  So many poorer, lower educated, black Christian people in South Africa are being given a “gift” that is leading them astray.  Robbing them of their gospel-vision and their missional calling.

As I thought about it I realised that I can talk about what is wrong in the health and wealth movement and point to many biblical passages but

a) I do not know much about the start or theology (i.e. how do they teach this consistently from the Bible) of the movement.  What books would you recommend I read?

b) I cannot think of many good resources on refuting this movement, bringing together the many strands of Biblical thought – to provide a comprehensive refutation of its theology.  Again – anything out there that you think I should read?

~ by John on August 5, 2008.

2 Responses to “The Things that really matter”

  1. Most of the literature I’ve read is very American and whilst TBN is exporting ‘American’ christianity to us I think we need to come up with our own ways of educating folk in this country – especially those in more rural areas who are often being taken advantage of. One of the places this is happening is the Christian Leadership Programme (CLP) at the Bible Institute. There pastors and lay leaders from communities that are prone to this sort of stuff are being challenged about their views on the gospel and encouraged to preach a biblical gospel without compromise.

  2. Stephen I agree that we need to come up with our own resources on these issues. And they are huge issues. I am thinking about putting some time into developing some resources, because the students I work with would really benefit from something like this. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel though. If anyone does know of anything African let me know. I have heard some really good stuff about the BI programme. Thanks

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