Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The glory of the nations: Ethnic culture and identity in Biblical perspective
by Christensen, Eric, Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary, School of Intercultural Studies, 2013, 322; 3557228
Abstract (Summary)

Christians engaged in mission and worship have been dealing with the issues of culture and contextualization since long before the word 'culture' was even used to describe what it does today in the the social sciences. Christian discussions about the importance of context for mission and worship employ the term 'culture,' 'cultures,' and their corresponding concepts in nearly identical ways to how the social sciences use them. Mission and worship proceed from Christian understandings of salvation history, the mission of God, and the role of the church which derive from theology rooted in Scripture. The terms 'culture' and 'cultures,' are usually defined, however, in ways that exclude any specific reference to Yhwh's involvement in them, from their origins to their destiny. This fundamental dissonance between common assumptions about culture and the biblical record may obscure important aspects of the uniqueness of human societies pertaining to mission and worship from our discussion.

This study raises the question of whether Christians are adequately served in these discussions by the meaning invoked with the words 'culture' and 'people group.' If the concepts of mission and worship themselves proceed from Christian understandings of Scripture, then Scripture is a natural place to look for guidance about how mission and worship have taken place and are to take place in the present day. Here I emphasize certain categories that emerge by hermeneutical tracing of biblical themes related to the topic of ethnic cultures.

I present the study in three parts. First Part I addresses questions about biblical theological views of ethnicity and ethnic cultures in Christian identity and worship. The studies center around the biblical theme of the glory of the nations with the research questions 1) What are the specific meanings of glory ([special characters omitted]) and nations ([special characters omitted]) as they appear in Revelation 21:24, 26 in canonical perspective? 2) What are the origin and destiny of the nations ([special characters omitted]) in Scripture? And 3) How does the narrative of Salvation History clarify the development of the glory of the nations?

In Part II an ethnographic case study of Sundanese Christian churches presents ethnographic data gathered with the following two questions in mind: 4) How have elements of traditional ethnic culture shaped the distinctively Sundanese Christian church movement? And 5) How do distinctive aspects of Sunda Christian identity and worship affect the appeal of the movement?

Finally in Part III I seek to integrate the thematic biblical and ethnographic streams to expose the missiological significance of the glory of the nations as a distinctively Christian concept and category for understanding ethnic cultures. The study culminates with practical recommendations for the re-examination and incorporation of the biblical concepts of [special characters omitted] and [special characters omitted] and a focus on the Hebrew identity within Scripture into mission practice and application to worship and church formation in multicultural congregations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McConnell, Douglas, Engen, Charles Van
Commitee: Karkkainen, Veli-Matti, McConnell, Douglas, Van Engen, Charles
School: Fuller Theological Seminary, School of Intercultural Studies
Department: School of Intercultural Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 74/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Biblical studies, Cultural anthropology, Epistemology, Theology
Keywords: Biblical culture, Cultural identity, Ethnic identity, Ethnicity, Exegesis
Publication Number: 3557228
ISBN: 9781303001543
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