Inter-Dependent Christianity: What All Kinds of Christians Learn from Each Other

By Nelson Jennings on August 30, 2017

One of Christianity’s greatest strengths is its adaptability. Scriptures, liturgies, governing styles, as well as how love, joy, and other Christian traits get expressed all are translatable into new languages and settings. The Christian faith “comes home” into all human settings. That’s one way that God graciously draws close to all of us.

That strength can also be a weakness, however. Particular settings – nations, generations, militarist movements, etc. – fortify themselves through co-opting religion for non- and even anti-religious purposes. The Third Reich and Apartheid co-opted Christianity, Imperial Japan co-opted Shinto religiosity, ISIS co-opts Islam; the list goes on ad infinitum.

Christianity’s two-sided strength-weakness makes “Inter-Christianity” all the more essential. Central to the Good News of Jesus Christ is that everyone, all kinds of people, human beings without distinction through faith alone are welcome and belong to each other. Christianity’s “inter-“ traits demonstrate the wideness of God’s grace as well as combat against the self-promoting, co-opting tendencies of all groups and settings.

International Christianity warns against nations exalting themselves and their warriors as the world’s greatest, mightiest, and most honorable, hallowed, and eternally secure.

Interconfessional Christianity humbles particular traditions to learn from other traditions’ strengths and insights.

Interdisciplinary Christianity encourages self-awareness of our demographic makeups – economic, ethnic, political, linguistic, social, and otherwise – that shape us and through which others readily view us and hear our gospel witness.

Intergenerational Christianity helps the old to hear the young, the young to honor and hear the old, and all those living both to stay connected with our ancestral “cloud of witnesses” and to live responsibly for the sake of those yet unborn.

Interdependent Christianity drives us all – intertwined as we are with our particular nations, traditions, religiosities, and generations – to embrace our need for those in other groups, all under the umbrella of our dependence on God and interdependence with the rest of God’s creation.

This article originally appeared on Worldwide Witness and is republished with permission.

Nelson Jennings

About Nelson Jennings

Nelson is a friend of Serge and former professor for Serge staff (Covenant Theological Seminary). Raised in a U.S.-American Christian home, he married (Kathy) in 1981. After Nelson completed an M.Div. at Covenant Seminary (St. Louis), in 1986 the Jennings family moved to Japan as church-planting missionaries. In 1995 Nelson completed a Ph.D. in Non-Western Christianity through Edinburgh University. Jennings taught at Tokyo Christian University (1996-99) and at Covenant Theological Seminary (1999-2011), then served at the Overseas Ministries Study Center (2011-15) and with GMI (Global Mapping International, 2016-17). Since September 2015 Jennings has served as Mission Pastor, Consultant, and International Liaison for Onnuri Community Church. He has published numerous articles and several books.