When George W. Bush spoke of the war on terrorism as a “crusade,” he was roundly criticized for the perceived suggestion that it was a war of Christianity against Islam. His aides apologized, saying that the president had only used the term in its sense of a campaign, but in the Middle East, the remark was thought to confirm a popular assessment of Americans and Europeans as “crusaders.” This is a hard lesson for the West, which long ago relegated religious beliefs to personal preferences and celebrates religious diversity — at least a Western understanding of diversity.
We often confuse diversity with the Western idea of multiculturalism, which I would argue, is intrinsically racist, since is posits a single (Western) perspective for seeing all other cultures. Diversity seen through “our” eyes and “our” perspective is also a diversity that fits “our own” needs and interests. Or even worse, we see others as means for achieving our desired ends.
The same could be said of the “Western” Gospel. McKnight’s dialectic shows how theology (atonement theology in our discussion) actually does shape the mission of the local church:
The gospel we preach shapes the kind of churches we create.
The kind of church we have shapes the gospel we preach.
Given our history, we should ask ourselves, what’s in our Gospel?