On Dialog with the culture

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By Tom Holmes

Contributing Reporter / Religion Blogger

Pastor Bob Shaner is the interim pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest right now.  When I interviewed him on Wednesday, he said the following about the church's relationship with the "world" and the need to find ways to communicate or dialog with it.

I'm counter cultural. The church is always counter cultural. The church marches to a different drummer.  I think one of the struggles of the church today is how do we connect with the culture, how to make those intersections, because in truth the church has a message and we say that that message is good news and we have the very news that the world needs and is starving for.  As we would say we have a treasure and it does no good if it's locked up and we need to let this treasure out.  But how do we connect?  That's always the fundamental question.  How do we reach out how make a difference?

His statement made me think of the work that Bantoon and Mily have done in Bangkok.  Bantoon wrote his Th.D. thesis on Dialog with Buddhism.  He argues that Christian missionaries haven't gotten very far with Buddhists in Thailand because they don't know how to communicate.  They use Christian doctrinal terminology that makes no sense in the Buddhist world view.  Christians, Bantoon argues, need to walk several miles in Buddhist sandals to understand how they perceive the world, if Christians really want to communicate with their neighbors.

Same thing as Bob Shaner is saying.

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