Author’s Preface Introduction
1. Shalom: Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
2. Jesus: From Kingdom to Community of Creation
3. God’s First Discourse: Connected to Creation
4. We Are All Related: Life Governed by Harmony
5. The Great Thinking/Doing Divide
6. When Time and Place Collide
7. Narrating Our Lives and Ideas: The Importance of Story
8. Joining the Party: Essential Community
Sitting in the bleachers of a Seattle-area high school gymnasium, I listened intently to the words of my friends, Randy and Edith Woodley. I was visiting the Pacific Northwest for a speaking engagement, and Randy and his family graciously agreed to accompany me to my very first powwow. I tried not to ask too many questions as Randy patiently narrated the pow- wow unfolding before us. I sat enthralled at the richness of the culture being revealed on the gym floor. The visual display was only a part of the learning experience for me. More importantly, I delighted in the privilege of hearing my friend weave vivid explication, cultural insight, theological wisdom, and truthtelling into a compelling narrative. As an outsider to the community, I was honored that the Woodleys would extend such authen- tic hospitality toward me. Later, I did what any twenty-first-century American would do—I Facebooked my experience: “Went to my first powwow with Randy and Edith Woodley. Everyone should have this experience.”
American Christians are increasingly aware of the diversity that comprises Christianity in America. Multiethnic, multiracial, and multicul- tural ministry (we often use these three terms interchangeably, oftentimes incorrectly, conflating the three terms) is now in vogue. Diversity is applied superficially. Usually the application of multiculturalism (or any of the other terms) degenerates into tokenism. Churches and Christian orga- nizations look for diversity in how we appear to outsiders. Diversity looks particularly nice in group photos and websites. But diversity is usually for appearance purposes only. Everyone must toe the social, cultural, political, theological line. Token minorities should be seen but not heard.
Randy Woodley’s voice needs to be heard. There is no need to discount that Randy’s voice is part of a chorus of voices arising from the context of the Native American community. Randy represents a welcome and necessary voice from a previously silenced and underrepresented voice in American Christianity. But more than merely a voice of Native American Christianity, Randy brings the power of his wisdom shaped by his many years of experience. A combination of an academic with impressive credentials — a former pastor, ministry leader, and social action–oriented grassroots organizer — Randy brings his life, his story, his experience, culture, education, and creativity to bear in offering shalom theology applicable to every context.
This book provides a thoroughly biblical account. Revealing a profound immersion in the Word of God and a serious reflection on Scripture, Randy generates a fully biblical theology. This theological depth is coupled with cultural sensitivity. Without question, Randy’s reflections are applicable to the broader context — in fact, I would deem his reflections to be an absolute necessity at this historic moment in American Christianity. Randy offers truth from his particular context, but with relevance and application to all.
Shalom theology and the Harmony Way suggest what the world should be, reflecting the fullness and wholeness of God’s creation. This book offers the great possibility as never before — that the North Ameri- can church could reflect the reality of God’s shalom, a shalom that is fully embodied rather than merely referenced or abstracted. The book offers an important challenge to western cultural captivity, revealing its deficiency. But Randy does not simply point fingers at what’s wrong with the world. In the true spirit of the prophets, he asserts the truth and calls us to a particular faithful pursuit of that truth. He expresses the ultimate act of trust in extending to us a hospitality that invites us to journey with him toward a shalom theology.
I trust the direction that Randy Woodley leads me. As you are led on this important journey through this book, trust the gift from God that is this journey.
Soong-Chan Rah, Milton B. Engebretson Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary, Author of The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity