The Dangers of Suburban Contextualized Theology for the Urban Christian

Comments (15)
  1. Danielle says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I’m that person who is in their late 20’s who can tell you all about giving your life to missions but is swimming in debt and is needing to “leave the mission field”. I was crying reading this whole thing like it was a mirror in front of me. My eyes are total open and I have hope that God wants to restore me and my family financially. This just brought a ton of confirmation to me. THANK YOU.

  2. Nathan says:

    Great article. Thank you, brother. I think every thing you said was on point. However, it is unfair to say Dr. Piper’s church/ministry focus is suburban. Bethlehem Baptist has always been in the heart of the twin cities. Nonetheless I think your point is very helpful and needed.

  3. Angela says:

    Wonderful article….

  4. Calvin Chen says:

    Fantastic and important points. I’d add that many of your points could also be applied to those from other backgrounds of less privilege (rural poverty, broken and abusive families, refugee background, etc) but your point about specific urban minority-contextualized quality Gospel teaching is very important.

    Very small suggestion and thought: I might just be quibbling with your wording in “now you can be something” – and you already point toward grace with “now That God has…” However I think even with regard to career and attaining socio-economic empowerment for urban minority youth (a good thing), we can and should be grace-oriented and also loving toward those for whom educational and career attainment may be out of reach… in the sense of “you ARE something regardless of whether you attain these” and we can help instill pride in faith lived out in a variety of settings and vocations.

  5. Peter says:

    The dangers listed may be more serious for urbanites, but people from all walks of life have suffered from the radical Christian mindset that leads to poor/irresponsible choice making.

  6. Jesse Nenrot Dan-Yusuf says:

    Hey Ameen,

    Loved this. I’m from Nigeria and I live in Nigeria. Funny thing is CHH introduced me to Dr. Piper and made inquire more about theology. After reading his Desiring God, it made me have a heart for missions but I never for once thought of abandoning education. Anyways, loved this article.

  7. Pastor Ben Soto says:

    Thanks my brother for this amazing article, right on point. I read David Platt’s book Radical and realized that what he calls “radical” has always been a normal part of the churches and ministries I have been apart of. Reformed Urban minorities have to be the best contextual theologians in our North American context. The majority of Christian resources are from a white middle class perspective, we have to work extra to contextualize and apply everything to our context. There’s a Missiologist you may enjoy. Orlando Costas (deseased), he has written works on mission both from an American minority perspective and from a Latin American perspective looking at the US as an outsider.

  8. Dan says:

    This is great insight! But I feel when you interpret a book’s message. I don’t think Piper or Platt would disagree with what you said, but saying it applied to just missions or radical is just not a good way of justifying what they wrote. It’s like reading the Book of Romans and saying why didn’t Moses Just tell the people of Israel that Jesus could save them.
    I mean, the book of Romans wasn’t written to those people and can’t be applied in that way.
    Neither Piper nor Platt in their books wanted people to believe THAT by reading their books people would “think they waste their lives if they believe that your educational/vocational calling and desire for a financially stable future has no place in the mission of God and his people.”
    I mean, how can you say “Contextualized suburban theology can often leave the impression that advancing the kingdom of God can only be achieved via Bible college and overseas missions.” As if that’s what either authors in their book emphasize. I just don’t see how you come up to this conclusions, Unless you go into reading those books with that idea already…. Unless you already don’t have an understanding of the doctrine of Creation AND THAT THE BIBLE BEGINS IN GEN 1 not GEN 3. Thats the only way I see you coming out with such conclusions. To say that those books are suggesting that the ONLY way to truly worship christ is when you don’t have Economic and Career Balance is just not fair!!!
    You’re simply accusing an orange for not being an apple. or a square for not being a rectangle.
    Appreciate the thoughts though

    1. Craig Carlton says:

      Dan,

      I appreciate your comments. I’m also grateful for the way that you attempted to be balanced in your response to the article. However, I think you may have missed a portion of Ameen’s overall gist. I am also a huge fan of both Dr. Piper and Dr. Platt. I have benefitted from their ministries immensely over the years. But Ameen makes an excellent and salient point when he states that with regard to their view of missions, the assumption is that most American Christians are fat with the all of the prosperity, high life, resources and benefits that Western culture has to offer. This can be misleading and is simply not true for many of our brothers and sisters who live and labor essentially in obscurity within indigenous urban contexts.

      If you think Ameen’s view on how these great men see missions is understated, I would encourage you to avail yourself to their larger bodies of work, particularly Dr. Piper’s book “Let The Nations Be Glad” as well as a number of sermons by Dr. Platt where he is open and candid about how he believes the American Christian should approach missionary work. I would also—as another commenter mentioned in the meta—commend to you the conversation between Dr. Platt and Pastor Kevin Deyoung about his book “Radical”. That conversation can be found at the link below.

      https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung/2010/05/25/getting-to-the-root-of-radical/

      I commend both of these men for being prophetic voices in this day and age for the supremacy of God in all things, including missions. At the same time, I think it is necessary to give loving, helpful and necessary critique when there are areas in which the teaching may be deficient. In my honest opinion, Ameen has done that beautifully in this article.

      Grace and Peace,

      Craig

  9. Simeon says:

    Ameen, brother, let me just tell you that you did that. Agreed. Well said and graciously presented. Thank you for this.

  10. Roosevelt Leggett says:

    This is huge!

  11. This is an excellent article! Very thought provoking!

  12. WB says:

    I’m a suburban white guy, but I saw that problem from the get-go. This approach is potential problematic enough among suburbanites (white or otherwise, and Kevin DeYoung offered some wise, gentle pushback to Platt several years back) but I can see it being very damaging to those in an poor urban (or rural!) context if not weighed against some wise spiritual counsel. Good piece – many thanks.

  13. Mark Mollenkof says:

    As a white Christian who grew up in suburbia with all that comes with that I never considered the perspective that Mr. Hudson so powerfully expresses in this article. I now live in a more urban setting and through the years of attending a multi-ethnic church have become aware of some of the issues the author raises. I want to commend him on a job well done in pointing out that urban Christians from oppressed backgrounds need to look at their lives and see how their love for Christ should compel them to impact their communities. There is no waste in serving Christ by earning an education, being successful and giving all the glory to God so that others might see Him.

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