I have such an Asian dad. When I completed my Masters in Divinity he said to me, “Daniel, I’m happy you’re getting your masters degree, but I don’t think we’ll throw you a graduation party until you get your doctorate.” He’s painfully Asian.
And just like the model Asian son that I am (not really) I will not stop until I get that party! Joking. I’ve already worked through a lot of my daddy issues so going back to school isn’t just about making dad proud. I’ve always wanted to do a doctorate and it’s only been in the last few years that I began discovering what I would do it in.
I was accepted into the PhD in Intercultural Studies program at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. I’ve been asked several times what I’m studying so I thought I’d post what I wrote for my Statement of Purpose. I look forward to refining my area of research over the next few years.
If you’ve done a PhD or any other doctoral studies before, I’d love to hear about your experience!
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
The area of interest I have in coursework and research is related to the anticipation of a more diverse and globalized America and how that will place an increasing demand on Christians and Christian institutions to have higher levels of cultural intelligence – in particular when it comes to evangelizing the next generation.
Missiologists, such as Lesslie Newbigin, helped the modern church understand the post-modern/post-Christian context that most North American Christians find themselves in. This was a spill-over of what was observed in Europe and the after effects of Western Christendom.
However, with the rise of Americans with non-European and non-Christian ancestry, I believe the context for developing missional theology and evangelism in North America has progressed beyond post-modern and post-Christian narratives and on to post-European and new-American narratives. Like Americans with European ancestry, the questions and objections to the Gospel raised by non-European Americans will still likely be influenced by secular humanism and the remnants of Enlightenment philosophy. But unlike Americans with European ancestry, they will have had a long lineage of non-Western, non-Christian beliefs, which puts them into a category that is post-modern, non-European, but still pre-Christian. Where a post-modern and post-Christian context was likely to breed humanism and agnosticism, a post-modern, non-European, pre-Christian context is breeding higher levels of pluralism and different forms of spiritualism.
Much of the missional theology and evangelistic models that have been developed in North America have been in reaction to post-modern European-Americans. Outside of African Americans and Hispanics, America is now seeing a large enough constituency of non-European generations emerge into mainstream American life that we should now consider what missional theology and evangelistic models look like to a post-modern, pre-Christian, post-European America.
My interest in research would be in asking questions about the readiness of North American missional theology to engage this new American reality. What are the sociological factors that we have not yet considered? What are the narratives we are assuming about Americans that don’t apply to non-European Americans? What are we ignoring in our North American church model that will prevent us from properly building transformative community for a post-European and ethnically diverse America? How should homogenous churches develop missional theology to account for this new American reality? Are intentionally multi-ethnic churches enough to do the job? What outdated assumptions about North America have our Christian institutions built their theological and ministry training?