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Why the Church Is Not in Exile: A Response to Brad East

Yesterday Sojourners published my article on why Christians should stop talking about the church being in exile. My argument can be summarized and expanded as follows:

1. Unlike Israel, which is a distinct cultural community, the New Testament claims that Christians are exiled from the world as such, not from a particular culture. Christians are eschatologically distanced from the world, and this distance from every culture coincides simultaneously with Pentecost's affirmation of every culture within the scope of God's reign. The gospel for Christians does not come prepackaged with a specific language or culture but is open in principle to every context. This is what missiologists call the principle of contextualization, indigenization, translation, or inculturation (some terms are better than others, but they all get at the same point). Western Christianity lost sight of this principle in the period of Christendom, when the church established itself as a specific imperial cu…

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