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Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide - 3rd Quarter 2015, Sept 10 2015

Thursday | September, 10

Mission and Multiculturalism

“Multiculturalism” is a recent term, first appearing in print in the 1960s, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. For many ancient peoples, there were only two categories of humanity-us and them, our tribe and not our tribe. For Greeks, all non-Greeks were “barbarians.” For Jews, all non-Jews were “Gentiles”.

As we have seen already, the success of the Gentile mission the forced the infant church and its leaders to deal with the Jew/Gentile divide. The question, at heart, was whether a gentile could become a Christian without first becoming a Jew.

Read Galatians 2:1-17. What happened here and how does this account illustrate, in its own way, the challenge of “multiculturalism” in outreach and mission?

“When Peter, at a later date, visited Antioch, he won the confidence of many by his prudent conduct tower the Gentile converts. For a time he acted in accordance with the light given from heaven. He so far overcame his natural prejudice as to sit at table with the Gentile converts. But when certain Jews who were zealous for the ceremonial law came from Jerusalem, Peter injudiciously changed his department toward the converts form paganism… This revelation of weakness on the part of those who had been respected and loved as leaders left a most painful impression on the minds of the Gentiles believers. The church was threatened with division.” – Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 197, 198.

Paul faced the issue with Peter and took a firm stand for what today could be called a multicultural church. His Gentiles converts would not have to be come Jewish in order to become Christian. Paul’s complex background as a devout Pharisee, student of Rabban Gamaliel, Roman citizen, fundamentalist persecuting zealot, and finally convert and apostle of Jesus Christ, imminently qualified him to distinguish timeless, unchanging divine absolutes on one hand and their temporary cultural and religious vehicles on the other.

How do you distinguish between what are the essentials of our faith and what are purely cultural, social, or even personal preferences?

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