Check out this column from the NY Times’ David Brooks on the US and China as examples of individualism and collectivism. He notes that the rise of China (and Japan) economically doesn’t just challenge the US on that front, but also on the issue of individualism and collectivism as prevailing cultural mentalities.
This blog being about theology, church, and mission, let’s just raise a question about the implications of this for our theology and practice of the Church.
We recognize that the cultural assumption of the biblical writings is of the collectivist mentaility. Given that, what sorts of tensions exist when we ponder the relative closeness culturally of the Chinese (among many, many others) and the cultures of the bible, in particular Hebrew Christians and the relative distance culturally of Americans (among other Westerners) and the cultures and cultural assumptions of the bible, especially those Hebrew Christians who wrote the New Testament and formed its early communities? How ought we learn, on the one hand, from the Chinese (and most of the world, by the way) about collectivist perspectives that would help us become more faithful to the biblical vision for Christ-centered community, and, on the other hand, from our Western tradition of rights for individuals and such?