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Yesterday I suggested that there is a big move toward an oral tradition based on a
number of anecdotal trends. These included the immediacy of the internet and
blocker claims that the majority of users had a 90 second concentration span .
Given that the internet is a written medium this is indicative of a non-functional
literacy issue where people chose to skim rather than read in depth.
The second issue was that there are still unnumbered groups of pre -literate people in
the world now. These people function adequately within their culture and educate
their children without the use of any written material. The culture is not inferior to
literate societies like the 1st World, they just have different priorities.
I grew up in an age when we were taught to memorize scripture by rote almost as if
there was an intrinsic value in being able to quote the verses of the Bible at the drop
of a hat. Often we may have been able t o quote the verses but equally as often we
may not have been able to open the Bible and go directly to the verse in point. Just
as often we may have been able to quote a scripture without being able to tell
another what it meant or why it was significant.
I heard during the Cape Town Congress into World Evangelism of a strategy that is
starting to take off among the Bibleless peopl es of Africa, as I recall. The plan is to
send two believers from neighbouring groups, ones with similar linguistic styles, pl us
a ³missionary´ who equips the two with Bible stories and they relay these stories to
the people they are there to minister to.
Without saying ³ho hum´ I applaud the measure but remember that Rachel Saint
went with one other white woman and a believing m ember of the Waodani tribe who
³slaughtered´ her brother and four other missionaries in 1958. The story continues,
just with a new emphasis.
This strategy has global impact for the spread of the good news. It is applicable to
almost every subculture on the world including the ³Urban World´ of the advanced
countries. Some will remember the film and book ³Peace Child´ about Don
Richardson¶s experience in New Guinea, a tribe who valued treache ry and revenge
above all else.
The Peace Child was the young est child of the warring tribe¶s chief this child was
surrendered to the chief of the other tribe as a surety of peace as long as the child
lived and so for this people Jesus became the Peace Child between them and God.
This example of lateral thinking is the new future in telling the Good News Narrative.
We must, if we are to become relevant to the hurting peoples around us, develop our
own narratives for change that are sourced from the Bible, true to the Bible, and
appropriate to our audience. Again from Cape Town I seem to recall a discussion
about telling Paul¶s Letters in context. This takes some detailed knowledge of the
correlation between the Acts of the Apostles and Paul writing to a particular church.
It is not teaching from the letter but applying the letter contents to the context in the
history of the early Church.
I feel that this is a strategy, that, applied with love , will soften hearts toward Father
and we owe it to Him to use our intelligence to apply Bible truth in an environment
that gives scant, if any credence, to the Bible as God¶s Word and the Church as His
community.