In the first part of Walls’ book, he talks more about transmission of Christian faith from a more historical perspective. The first part has six stages which show how coherent culture is. He talks about continuities and discontinuities of faith throughout history. I think that Walls really illustrated the importance of culture in this section.
The first Chapter talks more about the historic Christian faith (Walls 6). In this chapter, Walls talks about the indigenizing and pilgrim principle which is illustrated throughout the whole section until the sixth chapter. The indigenizing principle means that we take elements of Christianity and turn it into something that would be relevant for us culturally. The second principle, the pilgrim principle, is more about transformation. It talks about God taking people in their present situation and turns people into something great and better (Walls 7-8). I think that this is very important because as human beings we want out religion to relate to us so that it can be relevant in our lives. I also think that Walls implicates that though we take our religion and turn it into something more relevant in our lives, we should not let our culture hinder us from seeing the truth. I find the first chapter very vital because it sets the perspective on the other succeeding chapters.
The second chapter talks more about culture and coherence in history of Christianity. Walls divides history in this chapter into six phases: Jewish, Hellenistic-Roman, Barbarian, Western Europe, Expanding Europe and Christian Recession, and Cross-cultural transmission (Walls 17-25). Walls put forth that each area of culture is affected by each phase in history. I think that as every phase finishes, humans understand and learn more about Christianity.
I think that the third and fourth chapter is related to each other. Both chapter talks about how faith is transmitted through cultures. I think that Christianity is indeed intended to be translated so it can be relevant to each culture. Language is the closest element in defining one’s culture and faith should be translated so they can be understood and relevant. I still think that there is still a divine translation in the Scripture but we should not be hindered by our culture in understanding what the Scripture really says. Understanding and translating faith is important. This allows God to enter individual who understands in their hearts and convert their faiths.
The last two articles of the section talks more about the missionary movement. I agree with Walls that both Jews and Gentiles indeed need salvation. As regard to this, it should be part of spreading our message to the world. I think that there God still works outside the sphere of the Church because even non-Christian need salvation. There are differences in how God works but I think that the end result of touching each person’s heart is the same.
The first section is helpful in identifying Christianity as a community of faith. I think that culture is indeed important in shaping our faith. Though it does work that way I think that individuals should not let their culture hinder their understanding of God’s will. I think that it is also important to note that God’s salvation is open for everyone.
Walls, Andrew. The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of Faith. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1996.