Faith and culture has intrigued me for a number of years. From my own church upbringing, it’s been a tension to understand which parts of faith and theology are universally biblical and which parts of that understanding are really cultural interpretations. Growing up in high school in a Chinese church, this was an evident tension as the three congregations wrestled with both generational and ethnic values which many times influenced theology. Today, I learned from our First Nations neighbours understanding just a glimpse into their heritage and its interactions with Canadian society. Through visits to the Woodlands Cultural Centre, Mohawk Chapel and the Chiefswood Museum (and other locations), we saw native culture through the eyes of a Traditional Native and a Christian Native. We heard their stories, understood what tore at their souls and what they are passionate about. Through it all, a question lingered in me: what parts of the Christian faith expression (at least through the Mohawk Christians) is biblical and what parts are extrapolated from their cultural understanding. I’ve asked the same thing of my Chinese heritage or my Canadian/North American upbringing.

There are some core doctrines which are agreed upon (e.g. that Jesus is actually the Son of God). Christianity has intertwined itself with a variety of cultures and pagan expressions (e.g. Christmas being a redefined expression from Winter Solstice), providing a redefinition in a sense. Yet there are plenty of other expressions that the Christian faith directly opposes (e.g. the witchcraft).

The question in my mind is to what extent do we allow “importing” or redefinition of “other” cultural values (also understanding that we need to separate biblical doctrine from our own cultural interpretations as well). Still not sure what that answer is yet.

Advertisements