Thursday, June 11, 2009

They need to be converted!

There has been some discussion on my Incurably Religious post. It happened that after the first comment or so I was driving to take a funeral 50km away and I had in the car with me a Local Preacher and a Circuit Steward from my congregations in the Grahamstown township (black South Africans). I thought I would test the water a little and see what they thought about what we had been posting. I explained to them that Rev Kumalo had expressed wonder at the fact that the Rwandan genocide had occurred at a time when Rwanda was supposedly 90% Christian. I told them that South Africa was supposedly 79% Christian and yet we and such a crime problem. I think the local preacher raised the issue of crime, which is what made me think of the discussion.
The LP came back very promptly with the answer : People need to be converted. They just say that they are Christians but each one of them needs to come to repentance and commit themselves to Jesus.
I remembered then that the Circuit Steward had also been at synod, and she said that Rev Kumalo had said very good things and that we need to see change in the church. I can see that her mind is waking up to these issues and that she is starting to take her faith journey very much more seriously.
I can understand these responses. I preach a personal commitment to Jesus. Am I doing wrong from an African perspective? I believe that I am being faithful to what I perceive to be my call. Is there another way?


Steve Hayes said...

It's a starting point, well, THE startin g point. As Jesus said, "Without me, you can do nothing."

So anything else the church does has to be built on that.

Thomas Scarborough said...

There's the perception that conversion is about me only, or it's merely the ABC (admit, confess, receive), and the rest is neglected -- also called "evangelical detachment".

I see conversion as repentance and the renunciation of sin in the broadest sense -- surrendering my metanarrative to God, and receiving forgiveness through Jesus. This means that nothing can stay the same. It reconciles the personal, social, cultural, and environmental dimensions of conversion.

Tillich spoke of "the courage of despair", which I would see as the courage to depair over "the ground and support" (in the words of K√ľng) of one's whole life.

Not that I'm a great fan of these theologians, but they had a way with words. :-)

Thomas Scarborough said...

Wasn't thinking. ABC = Admit, Believe, Confess.

With regard to the tithing, did you think of using a wheelbarrow to transfer the cash? I used to tithe on gross income, but really found this impossible. Now I tithe on nett (before any bills diminish that).

Jenny Hillebrand said...

I wouldn't need a wheelbarrow even if I gave my whole stipend! I was going to say that I tithe on gross - I used to. But actually, I don't know what my gross income is. I'd better find out!
My husband and I found that it was harder to tithe on gross when he was earning more money and paying proportionally more tax. If you're paying 45% tax and you add 10% tithe you can start feeling quite hard done by. When you are paying 20 something percent it seems easier to tithe on gross!