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Communicating and Ministering the Power of the Gospel Cross-culturally: The Power of God for Christians Who Ride Two Horses

The Power of the Cross: The Biblical Place of Healing and Gift-Based Ministry in Proclaiming the Gospel

 

There are consequences to a powerless Gospel, yet there is a way forward.

 

Communicating and Ministering the Power of the Gospel Cross-culturally: The Power of God for Christians Who Ride Two Horses

By Charles and Marguerite Kraft

“Man of God, we will beat you,” the demon said, “because your people ride two horses.” This statement was made to Tanzanian Christian priest Felician Nkwere as he was breaking the power of a demon. The two horses referred to are the “horse” of allegiance to Jesus and the “horse” of a continued dependence on the power of Satan to fill in gaps not provided for by the Christianity brought to Tanzania by western missionaries.

What these Tanzanians had experienced was a Christianity without the Bible’s full vision of God’s power working in and through His people, strong on the need for a commitment to Christ for salvation and strong on truth as understood intellectually. That Christianity was and is weak, however, in the area of greatest concern to peoples like these—the ability to deal with the evil powers that are continually pummeling them with misfortune, disease, infertility and other ills. Since no answers are provided in these areas by most of the traditional brands of western Christianity, Tanzanians and a majority of the rest of the peoples of the world who have been converted to such powerless Christianity continue to make use of their traditional power sources. In doing so, they inadvertently are trying to ride a second “horse,” a satanic horse, at the same time that they seek to follow Christ.

The Scriptures are clear that we are not to worship any God but the true God for, God says, “I am the Lord your God and I tolerate no rivals” (Exo. 20:3, 5 GNB). For most of the world, however, including the western world, traditional Christianity has presented an incomplete God, a God who created and redeemed but whose current activity is difficult to validate. We have a Christianity with a wonderful past and an exciting future, but the present is for many very disappointing. Though large numbers of westerners seem relatively satisfied with this God, who is less than the God we see in Scripture, most of the rest of the world is not. They, like biblical peoples, expect God to be a God of the here and now, a God who provides enough spiritual power for daily living, power to ward off the evil powers that torment them.

The need for spiritual power to handle events and problems deemed beyond human control is common to mankind.

Perhaps Christianity wouldn’t be so disappointing for nonwesterners if a God of present power weren’t promised in the Christian Scriptures. If all they saw in the Bible was a God as puzzled about and unable to deal with spirit things as we Westerners, this area wouldn’t be such a problem. But in the Bible they see a God of miracles, One who stands up to Satan and defeats him, not One who ignores the evil powers. Nonwestern peoples know about these powers and spend lots of their time, energy and resources appeasing the spirits to avoid or repair the damage they bring. And biblical Christianity promises, but usually is hindered by Westerners from delivering to such peoples, a superior power to enable them to be more successful in their attempts.

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2009

About the Author: Charles H. Kraft, Ph.D. (Hartford Seminary Foundation), is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Intercultural Communication, Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, California). He has served as a missionary in Nigeria, and professor of African languages at Michigan State University and UCLA. He has published widely both in missiology and in African linguistics, and his books include Christianity in Culture (1979 and revised 2005), Worldview for Christian Witness (2008), and The Evangelical's Guide to Spiritual Warfare: Scriptural Insights and Practical Instruction on Facing the Enemy (Chosen, Feb 2015). His ministry website is www.heartssetfree.org.

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