October 19, 2021

Episode 08 – “Prophetic Lament” with Dr. Soong-Chan Rah

Change happens when we acknowledge the truth. And the truth can be painful, and often, we try to ignore that in the church. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah is here to share why it's essential to listen to the voices that we don't always hear from and why lamenting is just a step towards raising awareness of injustices, especially within the church.
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Show Notes


Guest Bio:

Dr. Soong-Chan Rah is the Robert Boyd Munger Professor of Evangelism at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. Prior to his appointment at Fuller Seminary, Dr. Rah served as the Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. He is also an ordained minister and author of three novels, including Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times.

Summary of EPISODE:

When we think of church, we tend to think of a place where we all feel accepted and welcomed. For Dr. Soong-Chan Rah and his family, church was the only place where they felt they belonged because the rest of society made them feel like outcasts. On this episode of Where Ya From?, Dr. Soong-Chan Rah talks about his life experiences involving the culture of church and the ways everyone can work on being inclusive.


Notes and Quotes:

  • “My great grandfather was actually one of the founders of the very first Baptist church in the country of Korea. It was actually in P’yǒngyang, which some of you know is the current capital of North Korea.”
  • “I think the most painful part is feeling like an outsider in my own church community. Not because I don’t believe in the same things—I believe in who Jesus is, I believe in who God is, I believe in the very basic tenets of our faith . . .”
  • “The things that we have struggled with, with our earthly father, oftentimes get translated into a relationship with our heavenly Father. So a lot of my Christian life has been trying to attain and achieve and do what I needed to do to earn my heavenly Father’s approval and love, in the same way that I wanted to attain and achieve my earthly father’s approval and love.”
  • “Culture, it turns out to be less of an issue in single cultural, single ethnic gatherings, because you don’t have to explain your culture. You just are your culture. For me growing up in the immigrant church, I was able to be affirmed in my cultural identity because who I am was reflected in the church.”
  • “The cross-cultural, the cross-history, learning from mentors and elders and academics that are coming from a different space than I am has profoundly and deeply shaped my faith.”
  • “The basic idea of captivity, the way I would define it, is that the church is more captive to the surrounding culture than it is to God’s Word.”
  • “Individualism and consumerism oftentimes is kind of the flip side of the same coin, where we believe that church is a commodity to be consumed rather than a community to be a part of.”
  • “In our American society, we can’t ignore ‘racism’ as a category and as a factor in where the church is right now. Does the preacher say bad words from the pulpit? That’s kind of the way we define racism. It goes much deeper than that. Is there a sense of elevating one culture, race, or people group over against the other?”
  • “It’s the right Christian way to do things while the Korean passion is . . . Okay, once in a while you were allowed to do that, but that’s not how we do things around here. So these are the places where we elevate, or we make primary a certain culture. And whether we call it racism or not, this is part of American society.”
  • “Theology is an exercise of again, pursuing truth, not owning truth. But pursuing truth.”
  • “I tell the story about my mom, where this was about 20 years ago, she was in her sixties and she showed me the condition of her knees. And she showed me where each of us have one knee cap on each knee. She had five. And the reason she had five knee caps on each knee is that she had been in prayer, lament prayers, and especially interceding for her children and grandchildren. And she prayed on her knees every day, at least an hour or two a day, praying for her church, her family, her children and grandchildren.”
  • “Lament is actually the listening and hearing of the voices we tend to silence. So lament as truth-telling means, we’ve got to hear all the different voices.” 
  • “We need to confess not only what happened, but also the fact that we have benefited from that system and that the structures that we’ve built were built on that kind of injustice. And if these systems were built on injustice and we continue to benefit from it, then there is a degree of responsibility that we have, and in some form, acknowledging that.”
  • “In the book of Lamentations, the saying of lament is done in a public arena. It’s a protest. It’s a public protest against their circumstances. And it’s actually directed towards God.”


Links Mentioned In Show:


Verses Mentioned in Show:

  • Book of Psalms
  • Book of Lamentations
  • Book of Jeremiah

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