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A Medi-Cultural Call for the Multicultural Congregation

Author: Brad Cawyer
Published: 2023

MD 14

Article Type: Text Article

The livability of this world is reinforced through partnerships, which increasingly are formed between diverse cultures—across oceans, nations, streets, and pews. In drawing on Paul’s image of the church as a body and on the personal adaptability reflected in his missional statements, this paper examines congregational identity through the metaphor of the bilingual experience and calls the church to reframe multiculturalism by moving beyond acceptance of other cultures toward being irrevocably changed by them.

“Cultures pour out their souls in their art. Here we may find a bridge for cross-cultural connection. And when we begin to listen to and in time sing one another’s songs, we may have a new and renewed ecclesiology which will favor more and more unity in our unhappily divided church.” –Martin Tel1

In United by Faith,2 the companion volume and response to Divided by Faith,3 Curtiss Paul DeYoung and colleagues propose the formation of multiracial congregations as “the best antidote to national and evangelical struggles over racial and ethnic issues.”4 In my travels as a professional musician sharing songs and hymns by composer Konstantin Zhigulin, I’ve had the privilege of visiting congregations across the United States, and some of them reflect the multiracial initiative proposed by these authors. These congregations are undergoing demographic shifts as they open themselves to expressing greater diversity and establish partnerships in which each person offers the gifts of their own culture. Two observations I might note from my times with these congregations are:

  • While racial and ethnic issues may be the most visible among national and evangelical struggles, additional categories of cultural difference—economic, linguistic, political, and others—also need to be addressed. Open and intentional cultural encounters across all these lines can shape the church to God’s glory.
  • Even where intentional cultural encounters are being cultivated, many stop short of fully realizing the vision of the church promoted in United by Faith. The church’s celebration and enjoyment of such efforts is good, but a more complete embodiment of creation, wellness, and justice awaits.

This paper offers the prefix medi- as the germ for a metaphor that can foster exploration of the experience of finding community through inhabiting a middle space. With this image as an aide and by listening to Paul with the ears of those who have found themselves living between cultures, the church can hear a call to live into a new identity that takes as its pattern the mind of Christ. When a congregation holds onto its primary culture, fellowship is limited. In releasing this grasp, the resulting partnership can create something new. This new middle space is unfamiliar for everyone in some way or other. It will not necessarily become comfortable for some time still. However, I propose that by meeting in a shared space not wholly familiar to any one person or group, the church may yet become a family where everyone is equally at home.

Issues in the Multicultural Church

It will be helpful to identify at the outset what the word culture means in this paper. The editors of Making Room at the Table settled on culture as “the social, linguistic, national, ethnic, and theological realities that locate and identify who we are and what we believe and value.”5 Drawing on the definitions provided in the introduction of A Many Colored Kingdom, I expand this list to include racial, class, and gender realities.6 With this in mind, a summary of the opening section of Martin Tel’s chapter in Making Room at the Table illuminates my thesis within a single area of cultural practice—music7—from which readers can explore broader questions. For Tel’s observations regarding music and its application in worship are no less pertinent within a wider scope for congregational communities.

Related to the presence of multiple cultures in the church, Tel notes, “Congregations that were once able to come together as one now divide their worship according to preference of defined subcultures.”8 This phenomenon can be associated with an approach, for example, that separates single congregations into multiple assemblies that offer either instrumental or a cappella music, or the choice of “traditional” versus “contemporary” worship.

Tel also raises a concern that multiculturalism in the church should not devolve into a “euphemism for the modern assumption that all things are equal and all should be accepted.”9 To paraphrase his larger point, a failure to make certain commitments that I will discuss later stokes the flames of the church’s conflicts. The inattentive approach to multicultural considerations reveals a disrespect for and even an abuse of traditions from outside one’s own primary culture. It is possible, as well, through inattentiveness to bring activities and teachings into the church’s musical practice that, despite potentially being attractive and exciting, are theologically unjustified and even unsound. Just as with other aspects of the church, the effectiveness of an activity is not sufficient justification for its practice, especially if it exhibits elitism or willfully disregards the commands of God.10

In his article “Cult and Culture at the Millennium,”11 Quentin Faulkner identifies “the smorgasbord approach characteristic of today’s popular multiculturalism” as “a hallmark of the new secular religion.”12 Considering Faulkner’s description of that religion, his observations imply that multicultural initiatives may ultimately serve self-centered impulses. This, of course, would achieve the precise opposite of the church’s calling to unified life in Christ. We must examine our interests—whether they be explicit or unconscious—alongside our intentions when engaging the practices of a culture that is primary to a minority of congregants.

To Tel’s concerns, I would add my personal observation that in Churches of Christ, music is generally the only art explicitly exercised within the context of congregational worship. Other art forms and creative practices related to drama, architecture, literature, rhetoric, and homiletics hover at the edges of community life, but their presence is sometimes overlooked. As the church thinks broadly about incorporating practices that reflect the diversity of those gathered, we should be prepared to discuss more than just worship music.

Bilinguality as the Basis for a Metaphor

Before examining Tel’s community commitments that address the above issues, I introduce a metaphor that I then offer as an image for considering approaches to congregational life in a multicultural context. A series of autobiographical reflections build this image and point toward more meaningful concepts.

In the summer following the first year of my undergraduate studies, I began going on short- and medium-term international mission trips. In a span of six years, I took five trips to Russia. All together, I was in the country working to support the ministries of one specific congregation for a cumulative eight months. Prior to these shorter-term travels, I refused to eat raw tomatoes except on hamburgers, but this changed in the summer camp that was the setting of my early mission work. Tomatoes were served on my plate, so I began to eat them. I associated this deliberate change with a cultural encounter. Upon my return to the United States, I became a tomato eater. This was a conscious decision—one made to consistently express the change my cross-cultural experience had effected in me. Generally, there is nothing more Russian than American about eating tomatoes. But for me there was a difference.

To pursue my master’s degree, I moved to Saint Petersburg and lived there for six years. I had not expected to wed while abroad, yet at the start of my second year of studies, I married a sister in the congregation I had become a part of. My commitment to participate in church life using the congregation’s native tongue exclusively, plus the practice my wife and I instituted of alternating daily the language of our home—speaking my first language on even calendar days and hers on odd numbered ones—supported rapid development of the second-language skills necessary for successful study at an institution where Russian was the sole language of instruction.

I began to feel comfortable speaking Russian after approximately three years of immersion. It was a slow process and included the common experience of culture shock in response to my new language and way of life. Often, this included a physiological as well as a psychological response. Sometimes these sensations were on the verge of being hallucinations. I see now that what may have brought on this unnerving reaction was cognitive dissonance arising from my personal cultural transformation as a bilingual. It is helpful to note here the definition of bilinguality as offered in psycholinguistics scholarship, which draws a distinction between that term and a concept with which it is often conflated in common usage: bilingualism. Whereas bilingualism pertains to the state of a linguistic community, “bilinguality is the psychological state of an individual who has access to more than one linguistic code as a means of social communication.”13

Renzo Titone’s holodynamic model of second-language acquisition offers an explanation for dissociative experiences in bilinguality such as I encountered.14 In his explanation of this model, Titone defines personality as “the distinctive, unique, and coherent organization of cognitive and behavioral activities, dependent on, and governed by, the conscious Self.”15 Language is personological. That is, it includes “a deep structure related to the intrapsychic dynamism of encoding and decoding as person-centered operations.”16 This structure consists of three “dynamically interrelated, constantly interactive, and ecologically oriented” hierarchical levels:

  • Tactic: regulating external speech acts.
  • Strategic: controlling cognitive operations.
  • Ego-dynamic: relating all psychological and linguistic activities to the “self of the communicating person.”17

The details of activity at the Ego level of this model raise a significant question for my thesis because sometimes it feels to bilinguals as if the tactic and strategic levels connect somehow with distinct Egos that are dependent upon the language in use at the moment.

François Grosjean provides a rich, albeit dated, literature review reflecting the sense some bilinguals have of exhibiting distinguishable personalities when using different languages.18 Participants in reviewed studies exhibited significant shifts in personality—such as raised levels of assertiveness and highly differentiated manners of emotional engagement—depending on which language they used for a given task. While Grosjean proposes that this phenomenon is perhaps “simply a shift in attitudes and behaviors corresponding to a shift in situation or context,”19 the fact remains that placing oneself inside these new environments and cultures brings about a change in personal attitudes, feelings, and behaviors.20

During my many returns to the US (even from short-term missions), I likewise came to sense that I had two selves that were distinguished by the language I was engaging at the time. For example, speaking in Russian brought out an assertiveness bordering on stubbornness, a quality that moved beyond the framework of my English-language persona. Not wanting to express dual personalities, nor to wholly subjugate one language-based persona to the other, I resolved to embrace a new but unified me. This required giving up parts of who I had been before gaining fluency in a second language. In a process that was most evident once I resettled in the US, I released parts of me that I had known to be me. These were not false or sinful parts, simply ones that were incompatible with parts from another competing side of me.

Although I had become bilingual, this process of self-unification worked against my being “bi-personal,” which felt dissociative and inauthentic. Instead of having to regularly traverse a bridge from one “self” to the “other,” I sought to inhabit the space between them. The image by which I am best able to describe this experience is formed on an analogy of the Mediterranean Sea. Rather than being in either “Europe” or “Northern Africa” and traveling between these two shores as I shift between languages, I have chosen to settle in the space between them.

This space is not necessarily a comfortable one. The shorelines feel at times very far from each other and from me. I am not on either of the stable land masses of my once distinct language personas. Located between them, I sometimes feel remote from both of the “selfs” I once had known. I am a resident of the sea that mutually belongs to both shores, and my sea legs are no longer content on either land. There are gales and there are waves, but these waters have become my home. This approach to the multiple languages that shape me has transformed my bilinguality into what I might term a medi-lingual experience.

Paul and the Medi-Cultural Congregation

What, then, might it mean for a congregation to inhabit such a middle space? While any number of scriptural references could be considered on the question of issues for the multicultural assembly, imagery used in four selected Pauline texts promotes reflection on how the personal bilingual experience can serve as a metaphor for the multicultural congregation as a body.

  1. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal 3:27–29).21

In the words of Parrett and King, “Christ has leveled the ground.”22 Differences of identity do not disappear, but socially constructed hierarchies of privilege and power are done away with. Despite having been made equals, though, two can become one in ways that do not fully exhibit God’s glory. Donald H. Juel remarks, for example, that the modern implementation of Gal 3:28 in most congregations results in one particular group defining the community’s core essence such that “genuine difference is often perceived as a problem to be overcome” through strategies developed to satisfactorily integrate those who don’t immediately conform according to class or race.23

Christ’s work as discussed in Ephesians 2 indicates, however, that a different approach is more appropriate:

  1. “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Eph 2:14–16).

Christ reconciled two bodies that were at odds with each other by drawing them into one body. He did not have one body receive the other into itself but brought them both into a new one to which neither could make prior claim. In this, Christ brought peace, a requisite for a body’s health and full functioning.

But a question arises: What happens to a body when it is made with another into a new one?

  1. “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (1 Cor 9:19–23).

In A Many Colored Kingdom, Gary Parrett states, “Paul, in becoming all things to all people, never ceased being Paul. Nothing was removed from his essential character. It is probably true, however, that some things were added to his character because of incarnational experiences. . . . The same could be said, of course, about Jesus.”24

  1. According to Paul in Phil 2:7, though, Christ Jesus, in taking the form of a servant, emptied himself. Where theologians may debate whether this self-emptying removed anything from Christ’s essential character, in our case, one thing added may necessitate another thing lost—perhaps even something that feels essential to our personal character.

Speaking of ministry in a foreign context, Parrett paraphrases a point by Lingenfelter and Mayers that “we can never be truly incarnate in another culture, as Jesus was.” He quotes these authors further: “ ‘As finite human beings we are constrained by the limitations of our minds, our life histories, and our personal abilities.’ . . . Yet ‘the goal of becoming at least partially incarnate in the culture of those to whom we minister is, by God’s grace, within our grasp.’ ”25 What is the congregation—especially within the Restoration Movement—if not a body within which all members are ministering one to another? In this pursuit of becoming semi-incarnate in each other’s culture, then, the members of a congregation are called to follow in Christ’s footsteps, imitating his act of kenosis.26 Parrett continues: “Surely, none of us needs to empty himself or herself of the glory of heaven or the free exercise of omnipotence. But there are indeed some trappings of our own homelands and cultures that we must let go of to serve others. Such things in and of themselves may be either good or bad. Or perhaps they are morally neutral. But each of us must consider what aspects of our own cultural heritage and experience may hinder the cause of becoming incarnate in another culture.”27

He notes further, “Jesus truly became a part of his culture, but his response was one of critical engagement.”28 The congregation’s task should be to follow Christ in this, too. Certainly, it is easiest to allow novelty and strangeness to prompt a critique of the unfamiliar. Yet when we, as members of increasingly diverse congregations, encounter the practices of those alongside whom Christ co-reconciles us to God, we should be ready to examine and empty ourselves by releasing parts of who we are. These things we will count as loss in comparison to the knowledge of Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings that can be gained by conforming to his death and living as his unified body.29 Such moments of potential contest between familiar and unfamiliar practices raise, then, this question: am I prepared to thoughtfully interrogate my own perspective and adopt the practice of another for God’s glory?

Five Recommendations

In his contribution to the edited volume Making Room at the Table, Martin Tel concludes with “five ideas about how we might prepare ourselves and our congregations for the use of multicultural music in our worship.”30 I here reiterate, reflect on, and broaden these recommendations, hoping the church will commit to them not only as they relate to music and the worship assembly but also as they relate to other dimensions of congregational life.

  1. Commit to contemporary living. For Tel, the word contemporary means in the moment, rather than modern. He calls for a commitment to engage the practice of another culture as an event of worship rather than of cultural appreciation. We engage a practice not because of its novelty or merely as a welcoming gesture through which others might experience something familiar to them. We do so because it enables us to approach the throne of the Father together as the one body God made us to be in Christ.31 Thinking beyond music and worship, then, we should seek encounters with others’ ways of living not in order to see how they live but, rather, to live as they do.
  2. Listen for the voice of the other. This means, first, to remember that we will come to know our brothers and sisters better and more deeply by actually listening to them than by assuming we can understand them well merely by experiencing their practice for ourselves. Second, in faithfully heeding Tel’s call to listen, we will consequently achieve an even fuller realization of this commitment—that we whose voices have been the easiest to hear, due to positions of power or privilege, should make sure not to drown other voices out.32
  3. Cross-cultural sharing must go both ways. Mark Bangert notes that multicultural worship incorporates giving and receiving from all sides. It requires that everyone graciously embrace for themselves every dimension of hospitality: stranger, guest, and host.33 The communion of these roles emphasizes our equal standing in Christ. This choice to count others more significant than ourselves (Phil 2:3) ameliorates some discomfort and anxiety generated when entering an unfamiliar space. What is more, when we finally join those of another culture with whom we have already been made into one body, we may discover that experiences familiar to us already have a place in their world, even though these practices might not take the form we are used to.34 In making our home together, are we prepared to embrace—and inhabit—once-familiar practices that another culture has taken up, adapted, and then shared with us anew?
  4. Commit to justice and love. Tel notes that Amos 5:21–24 and Bangert both denounce assemblies, festivals, melodies, and songs that rise as mere noise, as a “consumerist sampling of world ritual for the entertainment and curiosity of the passive spectators.”35 Absent justice and righteousness, our congregations no longer exhibit thoughtful service to our Lord, much less embody sacrificial living for God (Rom 12:1).36 They instead become like Paul’s loveless clanging cymbal (1 Cor 13:1). We must examine points of cultural boundary-crossing for misappropriations and tokenism and repent where our actions have served instead as camouflage for distrust and division.37
  5. Commit to excellence and relevance. Tel opens his article with an exploration of these two aspects of truth. He notes that “standards of excellence . . . rooted in a Judeo-Christian understanding of God and the revelation of scripture [are] still viable for the Church today.”38 Further, “the qualities of music that resonate with Christianity are not the provenance of any single culture. Goodness, wherever found, reflects the divine Creator.”39 The pursuit of excellence honors God, and its promotion honors those members of the culture within which a practice originates. Regarding the concept of relevance, Tel draws on Saint Augustine’s argument that love for neighbor supersedes the Greek philosophical values of unity, variety, and clarity in the determination of what is most excellent. “Christ demonstrated through the incarnation a concern to be relevant to those he encountered. Christ instructs Christians to do likewise.”40 And “all music, including music from another culture, must have significant meaning for those who are worshiping.”41 Thus, every practice in the assembly should be consequential for those who gather.

Reflection upon these commitments strikes upon two other concepts that appeared briefly above in my reflections on my own bilinguality—namely, authenticity and intentionality—words which, like the word relevance, have suffered overuse over the last thirty years yet retain a valid place in this discussion. Tel notes that excellence and relevance have a potential for being set in tension with each other and also points out the detriment of seeking one without the other.42 In contrast, excellence and relevance can be cooperatively aligned in a mutual and intentional pursuit of core values because they share qualities that meet at the intersection of honesty, integrity, and authenticity. Whereas Parrett warns that integrity will set a limit for how much of another culture the foreign minister can take upon themselves,43 in the context of the congregation as a single body, does not integrity—not as a state of moral rightness but one of essential wholeness—point in the opposite direction? The church body practices such integrity not by restraining this self-sacrificing incarnation but by earnestly pursuing it, being recognizably changed as we richly constitute a single congregational culture from the many cultures of those gathered.

A Medi-Cultural Benediction

Due to the unique situation of every local congregation, the exact manner of implementing this medi-cultural mindset will differ. It remains outside the scope of this article to indicate such specifics, but the exploration above suggests that, regardless of context, the call expressed in these recommendations enjoins those with more power to change, which undoubtedly involves no small degree of discomfort. However, in this kenosis for the sake of the unity of the local body of Christ, in releasing and relinquishing our grasp on our personal and communal cultures (i.e., our lands), the sea (i.e., that middle space) where these acts of humility meet is not a chaotic one. We who are called out to experience an emptying that fills with true life convene upon a sea of glass before the Lord and His Christ, who reign in peace.44 When the Church trusts in God’s peace, the concern for self transforms into a desire to partner in creation, wellness, and justice. In this pursuit—to paraphrase Miroslav Volf: May we give ourselves to others and, in welcoming them, readjust our identities to make space for them.45


Thank you to Greg McKinzie, Chris Flanders, and others on the committee of the Mission and World Christianity section of the Christian Scholars Conference for welcoming me to present my research. Thank you also to Aaron Wheeler for his insightful comments as a respondent to my paper. Though my own primary field of study is only lightly touched on in this paper, I hope what I share from personal experience and from my limited research, which I know only scratches the surface of a wealth of scholarship, can provide something useful to the Lord’s work.

Bradley Cawyer holds his BA from Texas A&M University and is a professional musician. He is currently a DMA candidate at Texas Tech University. Bradley did mission work in Russia on short-term trips during undergraduate studies and while living in Saint-Petersburg for graduate studies, where he met his wife, Elena. His ministry activity includes collaboration with Konstantin Zhigulin and the Spiritual Music Ensemble PSALOM. He is published in multiple volumes of Timeless—Ancient Psalms for the Church Today (ACU Press).

1 Martin Tel, “Music: The ‘Universal Language’ That’s Dividing the Church,” in Making Room at the Table: An Invitation to Multicultural Worship, eds. Brian K. Blount and Leonora Tubbs Tisdale (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001), 167–68.

2 Curtis Paul DeYoung, Michael O. Emerson, George Yancy, and Karen Chai Kim, United by Faith: The Multicultural Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).

3 Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).

4 As summarized in Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, S. Steve Kang, and Gary A. Parrett, A Many Colored Kingdom: Multicultural Dynamics for Spiritual Formation (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 8n2. Eight times in United in Faith, DeYoung and colleagues qualify their thesis that congregations should “journey toward becoming integrated [and] multiracial” (180) with the phrase “when possible.” On page 143, they recognize just three situations as valid exceptions to their integrative call: (1) when only one racial group resides in a location, as in some rural areas (though such congregations should still be crossing any existing ethnic lines); (2) when a common language does not exist (though they foresee future affordable, simultaneous translation technologies eliminating this exception); and (3) when first-generation immigrant groups are involved (since the challenges of crossing cultures may be too great for those transplanted into a new socio-political context to manage).

5 Brian K. Blount and Leonora Tubbs Tisdale, eds., Making Room at the Table: An Invitation to Multicultural Worship (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001), ix.

6 Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, S. Steve Kang, and Gary A. Parrett, A Many Colored Kingdom: Multicultural Dynamics for Spiritual Formation (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 18–20.

7 Martin Tel, “Music: The ‘Universal Language’ That’s Dividing the Church” in Making Room at the Table: An Invitation to Multicultural Worship, eds. Brian K. Blount and Leonora Tubbs Tisdale (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001), 162–74.

8 Tel, “Music,” 162.

9 Ibid., 164.

10 Ibid., 164–65.

11 Quentin Faulkner, “Cult and Culture at the Millenium: Exploratory Notes on the New Religion,” Soundings 79, nos. 3/4 (1996): 399–420.

12 Ibid., 416–17.

13 Josiane F. Hamers and Michel H. A. Blanc, Bilinguality and Bilingualism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 6; emphasis added.

14 Renzo Titone, “Knowing a Second Language from a Personological Standpoint,” in On the Bilingual Person, ed. Renzo Titone (Ottawa: The Canadian Society for Italian Studies, 1989), 16–34.

15 Renzo Titone, “On the Psychological Meaning of Bilinguality,” in On the Bilingual Person, 14.

16 Titone, “Knowing,” 18; emphasis added.

17 Ibid., 26.

18 François Grosjean, “The Bilingual as a Person,” in On the Bilingual Person, 35–54; see also pp. 42–49.

19 Ibid., 49.

20 See also Hamers and Blanc, Bilinguality, 195–97.

21 Unless noted otherwise, all Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version.

22 Gary A Parrett and S. Steve King, “Lord of the Nations” in eds. Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, S. Steve Kang, and Gary A. Parrett, A Many Colored Kingdom: Multicultural Dynamics for Spiritual Formation (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 60.

23 Donald H. Juel, “Multicultural Worship: A Pauline Perspective” in Making Room at the Table: An Invitation to Multicultural Worship, ed. Brian K. Blount and Leonora Tubbs Tisdale (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001), 48.

24 Gary A Parrett, “Becoming a Culturally Sensitive Minister” in A Many Colored Kingdom: Multicultural Dynamics for Spiritual Formation, ed. Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, S. Steve Kang, and Gary A. Parrett (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 122; emphasis original.

25 Parrett, “Becoming,” 123. The author of this article recommends the latest edition of Sherwood Lingenfelter and Marvin Mayers, Ministering Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016), in which those authors reconsider their use of certain language related to incarnational ministry.

26 Derived from Paul’s use of ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν (heauton ekenōsen, “emptied himself”) in Phil 2:7, kenosis refers to Christ’s act of self-emptying in taking the form of a servant. The term emphasizes the intersection of Christ’s divine status and Christ’s humanity, recognizing his choice to set aside prerogatives, privileges, and powers of his divine nature. The Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology, ed. Ian A. McFarland, Karen Kilby, David Fergusson (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), presents kenosis as central to Christian life and discipleship, remarking, “The notions of self-giving, self-sacrifice, service, and love of others which it denotes are essential for Christian existence” (262).

27 Parrett, “Becoming,” 127–8.

28 Ibid., 136.

29 See Phil 3:7–11.

30 Tel, “Music,” 170–72.

31 See Mark Bangert, “How Does One Go About Multicultural Worship?” in ed. Gordon Lathrop, Open Questions in Worship: What Does “Multicultural” Worship Look Like? (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1996), particularly p. 29: “If worship gatherings . . . wish to remain Christian, then they must . . . begin always with the death and resurrection of Christ as God’s way to bring all people to the holy city, the new Jerusalem. Hence, going about multicultural worship means attending to the centrality of Christ in baptism, in the proclamation of the scriptures, and in the shared bread and cup.”

32 Tel, “Music,” 171.

33 Bangert, “How Does One Go About Multicultural Worship?,” 27–28.

34 Tel, “Music,” 171–2.

35 Bangert, “Multicultural Worship,” 29. Bangert‘s image of a shopping mall food court opens the reader’s eyes to the pitfalls of letting the West’s secondary culture of “capitalism, the entertainment industry, international conglomerates, and world politics” (25) shape the way we interact with other cultures.

36 The English Standard Version offers in a footnote the variant translation “rational service” for λογικὴν λατρείαν (logikēn latreian) in place of the primary reading “spiritual worship.” I offer “thoughtful” here in an attempt to bridge the terms “spiritual” and “rational” through Paul’s focus on the capacity for reasonable thought via the words νοῦς (nous, “mind, understanding, reason”, e.g., Rom 1:28), φρόνημα (phronēma, “thought”, e.g., Rom 8:6) and φρονέω (phroneō, “I think”, e.g., Rom 8:5).

37 Tel, “Music,” 169–70.

38 Ibid., 163.

39 Ibid., 164.

40 Ibid.

41 Ibid., 164; emphasis added.

42 See ibid., 164–5, 170.

43 “When we are called to minister in a cultural context other than our own, we must seek to identify with that culture for the sake of the gospel. Such action is motivated by servant love and, as is the case wherever we strive to be servants of others, requires deep humility. But as we do so, we must wrestle with the issue of how much of that culture we can take upon ourselves while retaining our integrity” (Parrett, “Becoming,” 135).

44 Revelation 4:5–6 and 15:1–3 envision waters of perfect stillness situated before the throne of God, even in moments of impending cosmic calamity.

45 Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, rev. and updated ed. (Nashville: Abingdon, 2019), 34.

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