Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Why Do Some Places That Have Been "Christianized and Churched" Remain Corrupt?

A friend of mine sent me the following message: "[Your blog] raises a very interesting issue. Is corruption thriving because of the godlessness of the world systems, or is it thriving because of the lack of Christians engaging ethically, morally and courageously in their spears of influence. Who has the most influence…a little sin…or a little mustard seed of faith?"

He went on to quote a Jamaican Christian leader we both know and respect who made the following observation: “What do Kingston (Jamaica), Manila (Philippines) and Lagos (Nigeria) all have in common? They are the three most Christianized and churched cities in their parts of the world and are also the three most corrupt, crime ridden cultures in their parts of the world. I am not sure we can blame corruption on those outside the faith or those with no faith at all, as much as we can blame it on 'Godless' living out of truth and morality by those who call Christ Lord.”

My friend then added this sobering remark: "A couple of years ago, three of the seven or nine finance ministers in Nigeria were brought up on corruption charges and lost their government positions. All three were evangelical pastors."

Sobering indeed.

It is easy to look at the broken-down economy of Eastern Europe and connect it with several generations of Godless ideology. It is easy to look at the poverty of India and connect it with the effects of Hinduism, or to connect the robust development of South Korea with the growth of Christianity there. But why do some places that have been "Christianized and churched" remain corrupt?

I have only been to Kenya twice, and I'm in no position to criticize that country. What I found interesting, is that Christian music is played over the public address system inside the Nairobi International Airport, and churches are ubiquitous. A friend of mine who works in Kenya tells me the government council meetings in his area open with prayer. Yet, corruption in government and business is commonplace, and poverty abounds.

Why is it that in some places that have been "Christianized and churched," we do not see the kind of effects of Christianity that occurred in India following the Wesleyan revival, or in Wenzhou, China, today?

A penny for your thoughts!

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  1. I think we should pray for Nathan's to be sent to the capitol(s). Even the theocracy of Israel had immoral Kings, most of the time.

    The apostle Paul spent a great deal of time teaching on the implications of the Gospel. Perhaps the churches in those places should take a season to preach together on the intersection of their faith and their work.

  2. Right on, Paul! (Both you and the Apostle.)

  3. We found this to be true in another African nation, and believe it is rooted in missionaries who taught salvation, but not rules for Christian living that extend to family, friends, business, politics--all of life. The signs of hope are individual Christians who are having an influence in those arenas because they do see the faith/life connection.

  4. Well said, Nancy. Thanks for posting this comment.

  5. The following was e-mailed directly to me by my friend, Jack Fennema, who said: "Since I don’t know how to sign my blog to get it sent, I’ll send it here and let you post it."

    Jack writes:

    A great question!

    2 Corinthians 10:5 provides a two-pronged approach to this issue: We are commanded to 1) destroy the darkness and 2)take captive for Christ all that is true. These two approaches can be operative only through the living Word of God in three manifestations. First, the Word Incarnate must be embraced in personal relationship as Lord of all. Religious beliefs and practices by themselves simply don't cut it. Heart, mind, and action transformation must be the real deal. Second, the Word Inscripturated must be embraced fully as light to destroy darkness, as a plumbline for moral living, and as a kingdom worldview by which to guide thought and practice, personally and in the marketplace. Thirdly, the Word in and for Creation (i.e., created reality) must permeate all realms of life from art to zoology.

    In other words, what is called for is authentic, full-orbed Christian education for the masses.

    It is Christ, however, as Logos and living Truth who destroys evil and establishes his ethics of the kingdom. Even then, the 'not yet' of the kingdom will remain with us until he returns to establish his kingdom in fullness.

    Come, Lord Jesus!

    Jack Fennema

  6. I so appreciate your work. This blog raises questions which are intriguing to me. I too have seen foreign cultures that are heavily evangelized and yet full of corruption. Sadly, we see it in our own American society. And I believe that frequent failures of our own clergy and political conservative do help to make Christianity irrelevant in our culture.

    Solutions? I fully agree with Jack's focus on the need for Christian education (or focus at RENEWANATION). That will help because belief and behavior begin with the way one learns to think. That said, education alone will not transform. We desperately need a spiritual revival - individually and corporately, because only the work of the Spirit brings real life transformation. History clearly shows that reality.

  7. Well said, Melvin! May your work with RENEWANATION prosper.

  8. The following comment was sent to my e-mail box, and I was given permission to post it on the blog:

    Thank you for this.

    Having been a missionary in Kenya since 1971, and recently in Sudan, the question of corruption is ever there.

    How can the two coincide..full churches - Kenya #3 in the world for corruption.

    Your insight was totally correct - has Christianity become the "state religion", like in Constantine's time?

    J Max