In the year 325 a bunch of Christian leaders gathered to decide some really critical theological issues. It was an amazing event, for a few reasons.
First, this had essentially never happened before. These men (let’s be honest) had only perhaps HEARD of each other; they had never met, or looked in each other’s eyes.
Relatedly, this was coming at the end of a season of (albeit sporadic) persecution for the church. Many of these leaders could show, in their bodies, the physical costs of following Jesus.
It must have been mind-blowing.
Someone recorded it:
There were gathered the most distinguished ministers of God, from the many churches in Europe, Libya (Africa) and Asia. A single house of prayer, as if enlarged by God, sheltered Syrians and Cilicians, Phoenicians and Arabs, delegates from Palestine and from Egypt, Thebans and Libyans, together with those from Mesopotamia. There was also a Persian bishop, and a Scythian was not lacking. Pontus, Galatia, Pamphylia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Phrygia sent their most outstanding bishops, jointhly with those from the remotest areas of Thrace, Macadonia, Achaia, and Epirus. Even from Spain, there was a man of great fame…
What an amazing moment in the life of the Church. But something stood out to me; check that list again:
You know what stood out to me?
Though the writer lists ministers from Europe, look at that list of countries.
Not really a western European among them.
Sometimes I think that we are so predisposed to think of Christianity as a western European—actually an AMERICAN—phenomenon that we forget that it’s legacy really isn’t.
As the saying goes, we stand on the shoulders of giants, and in our case those shoulders are black or olive-skinned.
European culture brings great strengths to the table, but we don’t bring everything (and some of what we bring is less than helpful, but that goes for all cultures).
How Euro-centric is your faith? Have you ever attended a worship gathering from a different ethnic background?
Have you ever read something that challenged the cultural perspective of your faith?
For my Caucasian brothers and sisters, I’d lay a gentle challenge at your feet: find a worship gathering to go to where you’d be the minority, where you could see “distinguished ministers” from a different culture.
If you want to read an introduction to the multi-cultural phenomenon of our faith, check out Soon-Chan Rah’s book on how the face of evangelical faith in America is changing.