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

Now, however, many of us are a part of a movement within non-charismatic evangelicalism into the spiritual power dimension of biblical Christianity. This is, of course, a threat to the traditionalists who have theologized God (and, often, Satan as well) out of His ability to do today what he did in New Testament times. How like the Pharisees who also believed that God is only a God of the past and the future (Jn. 9:29)! Beyond the worldview blockage, traditional evangelicals have good reason to fear the emotionalism, experience-orientation and, in some cases, wierdness both of practice and theology that characterize some high visibility Pentecostals and charismatics. Wimber and others have, however, pioneered for us a way of moving in spiritual power without such extremes. They are teaching us that this dimension of Christianity is a dimension that Jesus expected to be normal for us.

There is, therefore, the possibility for things to change today among evangelicals such as the two of us who were once just as skeptical as many of our detractors. Though an incredible amount of damage has already been done, resulting in large numbers of Christians worldwide riding two horses by practicing dual allegiance and nominal Christianity, we could mount a strategy to correct the situation. Elements of the strategy might be as follows:

1. Many of us former missionaries who presented a deficient (powerless) Christianity but have now experienced the missing dimension can do seminars leading people into that missing dimension in nonwestern areas, including the places we once served. We can repent and return to a fully biblical view of ministry in God’s power. We can teach, demonstrate and lead our people out of the need for dual allegiance into a powerful, biblical Christianity.

Bridges need to be built between non-charismatic and charismatic church leaders worldwide. We have much more in common than we have differences. We evangelicals need to learn more from what charismatics have learned.

We need to instruct both national and expatriate leaders in biblical models of healing and power encounter in a culturally sensitive way. In doing this, we need to resist any tendency to simply export another western approach to Christian experience and doctrine. If the problem of dual allegiance is to be counteracted, the understanding and practice of spiritual power by such leaders needs to be firmly rooted in both the Bible and their own cultural foundations.

In most places this will not be difficult with the nationals, since many of them have simply submerged their traditional supernaturalism. They often are immediately opened up to deal with these issues as soon as they receive our permission to do so. We’ve experienced this in doing seminars on spiritual power in places like Nigeria, Kenya, Chuuk, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan among the nationals of these countries. We found, in fact, that many of the pastors in these areas have been practicing healing and deliverance surreptitiously, in spite of the fact that such activities were condemned by church leaders. As we teach the biblical validity of such ministry and demonstrate the willingness of God to move in healing power today, then, they often gain new freedom to practice these things openly.

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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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