Eugene Cho

‘the next evangelicalism’ & the changing face of christianity

soong chan rah

Soong Chan Rah isn’t a household name that rolls off your tongue like others in the larger Western evangelical world.  But if you’re at all interested in Christianity and it’s engagement with Justice, Urbanism, and Multi-ethnicity, you’ll want to bookmark his website/blog and take a look at his new book entitled, The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church From Western Cultural Captivity.

Umm, I don’t think he got the memo that ‘happy titles’ sell more books.

the next evangelicalism

Since he’s a professor at North Park Seminary in Chicago, he was one of my primary hosts when I visited and spoke at the seminary couple freezing winters ago.  I recently had a chance to chat and interview (video below) Soong Chan about his new book, the changing face and supposed decline of Christianity and the Boston Red Sox, Cubs, and Seattle Mariners.

Listen to what he’s trying to say about the changing face of Christianity. If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, I’ve been saying that as well.  Not to sound ominous, but getting this and learning to be better listeners, engagers, and neighbors will partly determine Life or Death for the future Church including potentially, your church, tribe, affiliation, or denomination.

What do you think about that statement?

I haven’t finished the book yet and there’s stuff I agree and disagree with but that’s good. For two good reviews, I’d direct you to Wayne Park and Julie Clawson.

Here’s the video:

If you’re reading this via an RSS reader, you can click here to watch the video.

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11 Responses

  1. justin says:

    p.rah once preached about post-modernism and used star trek as an illustration… that was over a decade ago and i still remember that sermon. pe, we need more star trek illustrations at quest. haha.

  2. As folks are reading the book, I’d love to hear feedback and reflections. Even if you haven’t read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the title and thesis of the book.

    Soong-Chan Rah (www.profrah.com)

  3. daniel says:

    Eugene,

    Your comment about Life and Death of the Church is a little over the top but I understand what you’re saying. The Church will never die but churches will die unless they open their eyes and their hearts.

  4. Jeff Lam says:

    soong chan rah came and spoke at an IV conference several years ago, where he talked a lot about the future of the church. he definitely caught everyone’s attention when he said the “white church is dying.” i thought he was smart and provocative, and even people who disagreed with the things he said felt a great deal of respect for him.

  5. me says:

    @jeff: well, i would disagree with scrah. the white church isn’t dying. it’s a large segment but parts of it are certainly dying or in decline.

  6. Andy says:

    I got the book and plan to start reading soon. From previewing the book last night I could see I’m going to probably agree with much of his thesis. I took about 50 pages in my dissertation making some of the same critique, following a thesis Lesslie Newbigin made about Western Christianity as falling into an “advanced form of syncretism.” I’ve worked abroad for 11 years of my adult ministry and found, upon returning to North American, that much of the church culture seemed out of whack. The way forward requires a serious re-reading of scripture while engaging culture missionally.

  7. Wayne Park says:

    You know I’m starting to think that Rah is doing for Asian-American Christianity what Cone did for the black church and Gutierrez did for Latin Am / Hispanic church…

  8. Kacie says:

    Wow, Marinkina’s comment looks interesting!

    I LOVE some of scrah’s ideas, and I think that the evangelical culture that inextricable from the American suburban white culture can die and I will not miss it.

    However, it’s tough to try to pull our faith and churches away from the dominant culture here at the same time as we are trying to enculturate missions and church overseas. We recognize the need to be rooted in the local culture all around the world, but we’re not okay with our own?

    So yeah, I think there’s a balance. When we don’t recognize that our churches are highly influenced by our culture, we are unable to weed out what is culture and what is orthodox faith. In that sense, it’s very important for us to grasp some of the things scrah is saying, and for American churches to adjust to the increasingly diverse American culture rather than getting stuck in the past.

  9. me says:

    @kacie: sorry, spam

    @everyone: i’d be curious to hear from any of the anglo readers of this book. i asked him on the video interview but as you read it, does this come across simply as bashing “white culture.” this is what a friend emailed today:

    “Several of us here who read the book have all felt that (“anti-white culture) came across as a strong sentiment in the book.”

    thoughts?

  10. […] Pastor Eugene Cho and Wayne Park have recently written reviews of this book. You can find them here and here, […]

  11. J.Ben says:

    I would love to comment from an anglo-perspective. Wow, I don’t get to say THAT very often.

    Anyway, I loved it. Totally prophetic and right on. I help lead an InterVarsity Fellowship at Oregon State and I am considering making it required reading.

    As to the “white culture bashing,” I think critics may have a bit of a point, but I also feel that if Rah had spent a good deal of time writing about the good contributions of white evangelicalism, he would have undercut himself. I felt that he was never out of line and he needed to be a bit controversial to get his point across. I felt that all of Rah’s observations were dead on.

    I didn’t for a second think that he did not appreciate his white brothers and sisters and he even gave a shout out to churches that have embraced the next evangelicalism. I believe the people who used to have your church were some of those people right?

    If people want a good book that deals with being white in an increasingly multi-ethnic context, I would recommend “Being White” by Doug Schaupp and Paula Harris. They give a chapter to the good gifts white culture has to offer.

    At the end of the day, this book is much needed and important. I am glad he wrote it and glad I read it. Now I am going to go try to live it.

    Peace!
    Ben

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Window seat. For the win. As leaders, we must not see ministry and family as competing commitments.  We must not sacrifice our marriage and kids for the sake of "ministry." How can we? Loving our families IS ministry & good leadership.

And on a side note, we took this goofy photo for Mother's Day last Sunday at @seattlequest. I was shocked! What in the world happened to our kids? Our 13 year old son blocked four of my shots on the basketball court yesterday. He's since been grounded... I fear that we ask God to move mountains, forgetting that God also wants to move us.

In fact, it's possible that we are that mountain. Time flies. The eldest is wrapping up her 1st year in college and the college tours have begun for the 2nd child. The youngest enters high school in the Fall. Can't say enough about how proud Minhee and I are of the kids - not just of their accomplishments but the people they are and are becoming.

But...man...we can't wait to party it up when we're emptynesters. Party at our house. It's going to be epic. Humbled. Grateful. Mindful of God's grace and faithfulness in my life. It's all grace... It's an unexpected honor to be invited back - even with some mini-drama - to @princetonseminary to receive the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award - exactly 25 years after starting my journey there as a student in 1992. Wow.

Princeton isn't necessarily for everyone. And to say that I loved everything about my experience would be misleading but it was very formative. Ir challenged me to examine why I believed in what I believed. It reminded me that God could handle my questions. It prepared me for a post-Christian context where I am not entitled to be heard but I had to earn the right to be heard, and of course, it taught me that all is good with a Philly cheese steak at Hoagie Haven.

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Thank you again, PTS and President Barnes, for this honor. Then, today, and tomorrow...by God's grace, just striving to be faithful to my Lord and Savior...to preach and live out the convictions of the whole Gospel. Amen. So humbled and grateful to be with @catalystleader in Cincinnati to encourage leaders from all around the country about the invitation to Uncommon Fellowship.

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