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Positive Pluralism

Autor: Krish Kandiah
Datum: 25.02.2010
Category: Wahrheit & Pluralismus

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Ursprünglich geschrieben in Englisch

A response to Mark Chan’s ‘Sowing Subversion in the Field of Relativism

To facilitate a truly global conversation, we ask Christian leaders from around the world to respond to the Global Conversation’s lead articles. These points of view do not necessarily represent Christianity Today magazine or the Lausanne Movement. They are designed to stimulate discussion from all points of the compass and from different segments of the Christian community. Please add your perspective by posting a comment so that we can learn and grow together in the unity of the Spirit.

My lips were watering as I read Mark Chan’s erudite article. For me, Singapore conjures up memories of outdoor banquets by sunset, with my table laden with the best the hawker stands have to offer: Thai soups, Malaysian Satay Chicken, Chinese Szechuan-style noodles, Sri Lankan sweetmeats and so much more. There is so much to commend in Chan’s article, but reading it one could forget that diversity is good and not just for the taste buds.

You don’t have to be in the sunshine city of Singapore to experience interconnecting cultures. The diversity on our doorsteps brings with it incredible opportunities for Christian mission and theology as well as a taste of eternity. We no longer need a passport to discover this. For many of us we only need to turn up at work, fire up Firefox, or phone up the parents of our child’s classmates.

As we navigate our pluralist societies we need to avoid two dangers tourists often fall into. We do not want to be the tactless tourist who presumes that shouting louder will make our foreign tongue more decipherable. Nor should we be the reluctant tourist who seeks out McDonalds in Madrid, Dunkin Donuts in Delhi, or Burger King in Bangkok. But unfortunately these are the approaches the church has often adopted when engaging pluralism.

Tactless Tourism

The tactless approach to pluralism can lead the church to retreat into an arrogant absolutism. Out of fear and misunderstanding we end up believing we have nothing to learn from people from other cultures and religions and so we resort to shouting the truth of the gospel at them and often not hanging around to listen to the response. I would like to balance Chan’s dire warnings of the dangers of postmodernity with the positive things postmoderns can bring to the discussion. Postmoderns help us recognize that we are all culturally biased, and therefore in every missionary encounter we have something to learn. The apostle Peter spent three years on the road with Jesus and preached the Pentecost sermon where thousands were converted, yet he still had more to learn about the implications of the gospel. It was only as he crossed cultural boundaries to evangelize that he realized “God does not show favouritism but accepts those from every nation who fear him and do what is right” (Acts 10:34-35, TNIV). I believe the gospel is God’s unique truth, but I also believe that we Christians cannot claim to have comprehended it exhaustively. We must learn the boldness to speak but also the humility to listen and learn.

Stichwörter: pluralism, tourism, absolutism, postmodernism, learners, unity in diversity, mulitcultural

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Antworten Kennzeichnen 0 Daumen hoch Daumen nach unten CHINA___12 (3)

Lord ah, please, make us your instruments of peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, let me sow pardon,
Where there is suspicion, let me sow trust
Where there is despair, let me sow hope
In a dark place, let me sow light
Where there is sadness, let me sow joy.
Lord ah, please, give us the dream,
That we do not seek comfort, but to comfort,
Does not seek to understand, but to understand,
Not for being loved, but love.
Because, given that our harvest,
Forgive others, we will be forgiven,
This death is our life.
Hallelujah! Holy! Holy! Holy! LORD of hosts! Whole earth is full of your glory! Exposed in front of the Lord holy arm in the nations! Ends of the earth who have seen the salvation of our God! ! ! Knowledge of the LORD to be filled over and over, as the waters cover the sea! Hallelujah! ! ! Hallelujah! ! ! Hallelujah! ! ! Hallelujah! ! ! Hallelujah! ! ! Hallelujah! ! ! Hallelujah! ! ! ! ! ! ! ......
Please join the unprecedented revival of the Chinese offer prayers! Praise the Lord, glory to God bless you God bless the conference a complete

Antworten Kennzeichnen 0 Daumen hoch Daumen nach unten GPelayoestratega (0)

Estimado hermano Krish:

Estoy de acuerdo contigo en tu tesis básica de que el pluralismo cultural no es totalmente malo y que el mismo crea oportunidades para la evangelización y el aprendizaje cultural. Pero creo que ese no es el punto sobre el que diserto nuestro hermano Chan. El pluralismo al que el se refiere es al religioso, al teológico e ideológico. El evangelio se ha desarrollado y ha sobrevivido al ambiente humano multicultural y por ende pluralista religioso, filosófico, político, teológico, ideológico. Eso no fue solo al principio. En realidad ha sido siempre. La razón de que haya sobrevivido a este ambiente multicolor la hallamos en Jesucristo quien lidera su iglesia y la capacita para penetrar toda cultura y sus elementos configurantes, hasta ataviar el evangelio con lo redimible y lo nuevo creado de ella. Proceso que es el reflejo de su propia encarnación.

Con base en lo anteriormente dicho, se puede establecer entonces, que Jesús encuentra al ser humano en su cultura y lo redime en esta, iniciando un proceso de instrucción que desencadena un proceso de transformación que va redimiento a la cultura del mismo por medio de la transformación de cada persona salvada hasta generar una masa subcultural crítica que presiona cambios en la cultura del cristiano convertido. El cristiano es convertido entonces, en un transformador de la cultura, no tanto en sus formas costumbrísticas como en sus percepciones del mundo y de la verdad, en su cosmovisión cultural. Cuando estas cambian, cambian entonces las costumbres, las tradiciones y/o se refuerzan las ya existentes que colinden con los principios del reino.

Todo esto nos hace concluir que el pluralismo cultural no es el que debe preocuparnos a la hora de evangelizar un campo misionero multicultural. El que nos crea verdaderos peligros y problemas para la proclamación del evangelio es el pluralismo ideológico, filosófico, relativista y religioso; situación que debemos enfrentar al igual que lo hicieron los apóstoles y primeros cristianos en su tiempo.

Antworten Kennzeichnen 0 Daumen hoch Daumen nach unten I_Strat (1)  

I truly liked your analogy of the tactless tourist and the reluctant tourist.  I have organized an inter-cultural festival in our city with the local museum, hospital, schools, and government and have discovered that when it comes to culture and diversity, our churches are years behind.  The gospel of the kingdom appeals to the pluralistic community.  The gospel that we share with them must include the kingdom rather than excluding the kingdom.  The kingdom Jesus taught us to pray for is a pluralistic one to be longed for.  See you in Cape Town.

Antworten Kennzeichnen 0 Daumen hoch Daumen nach unten Jon_Hirst (2)  
Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika

Dear Krish, I recently responded to your interaction with the following post on my blog. I loved your anaology. It fit very well with our recent book about the truth lenses that guide people’s faith, relationships and outreach (Throuth the River).
The Journey of Truth as Tourism
This month we continue to respond to the excellent articles being posted on the Lausanne Global Conversation site about pluralism and the struggle to understand truth. This is a key topic and was the focus of our book - Through the River.
Today we want to highlight one of the official responses to the article by Krish Kandiah who serves as executive director of Churches in Mission for the UK Evangelical Alliance. What I love about the response is the use of the analogy of tourism to talk about our truth journey. This ties in so well with our analogy of going through the river of relativism as people interact with truth.
In this response the author challenges us in two key ways:
1. There is a challenge not to be "tactless tourists" that simply ignore what those searching for truth are going through and demand that they understand truth the way we do. Here is a quote that I love, "The tactless approach to pluralism can lead the church to retreat into arrogant absolutism." This is so true. What we have seen as we have studied the way people view truth is that many fight away the uncertainty of relativism through arrogance. This is easy to understand because people are trying to reduce the uncertainty around them but it is a huge mistake because it makes Christianity so irrelevant to the larger community who is struggling with truth.
2. There is also a challenge not to be "reluctant tourists" that cower in the face of the pluralistic approach all around us. In our book we call the "reluctant tourists" the "island dwellers." They live out in the river of relativism on sandy islands where there is truth but it is completely personal. Unfortunately most believers in the West live in this world of personal truth where there are no bridges to others. I agree with this great quote from that section, "A fast-food message cannot compare to the nourishment offered by a local flavoursome organic church." What a powerful way to combat the idea that truth can no longer be anything but personal. In our book we talk about a third way that is very compatible with how this article approaches the subject. We talk about a humble approach to truth that is derived in relationship to God and in community with believers.
Our prayer is that this global conversation hosted by Lausanne will be a catalyst to bring that kind of truth discussion to the forefront.

Antworten Kennzeichnen 0 Daumen hoch Daumen nach unten kkandiah (2)  
@ Jon_Hirst: Hi Jon
great to connect on world wide open - looking forward to connecting with you and your book some more.

Antworten Kennzeichnen 0 Daumen hoch Daumen nach unten Jon_Hirst (2)  
Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika
@ kkandiah: Krish, thanks for your message. I would love your input on our book and the work we did with Dr. Paul Hiebert. You can see the blog for the book at

Blessings as you serve Him!


Antworten Kennzeichnen 0 Daumen hoch Daumen nach unten kkandiah (2)  
@ Jon_Hirst:

Thank you for your kind comments.

I am worried that we tend to take only a negative view of our cultures and contexts. I am a firm believer in common grace, general revelation and the universal falleness of humanity. So every culture - western or easterm, premodern, modern or late modern will have elements that are beautiful and some that are beastly.

Looking forward to meeting you in Cape Town



Antworten Kennzeichnen 0 Daumen hoch Daumen nach unten hayesstw (-2)

Reading your article reminded me that the first time I ate at a McDonalds was in Hong Kong, and the second time was in Moscow. And in Moscow I observed the McDonalds spirituality being propagated by many Western missionaries.

So I say well said. The way many Christians talk, you’d think pluralism and multiculturalism were bad things, but they are actually opportunities for evangelism and witness, and Christianity first appeared in a multinational muilticultural pluralistic empire, and I’m sure God knew what he was doing.


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