third-way-thinking-culture-bannerIncreasingly, I am coming across thinkers, theologians and practitioners who are advocating approaches that can be characterized as third way.

Whether we’re talking about politics, power, theology or praxis, it seems as if our world is becoming increasingly polarized into diametrically opposed camps, whose main form of communication is to lob an occasional grenade in the general direction of the other.  It’s been good for my soul to hear that many others are who are in the same boat — convinced there must be a a way out of these false binaries, a higher and better way, especially as followers of Jesus.

Walter Wink takes on the myth of redemptive violence in describing how creative Jesus is when He tells us to turn the other cheek.  Instead of falling into the old patterns of fight or flight (returning evil for evil or fleeing in fear), Jesus presents a third way to respond.

Scot McKnight, in his book The Blue Parakeet and in his Beliefnet series The Third Way, articulates a third way reading of the Bible, one which embraces both the human and the divine:

Hamilton comes to this conclusion: The Bible “is a book written by people who lived in ancient times, with their own biases and limitations in knowledge, who had great insights and experiences of God … And it is a book through which God has spoken and still speaks, one that is ‘living and active’ and through which God comforts, challenges, and inspires, the very reading of which has the power to change lives”

[For a broader theological third way perspective, see Scot’s article A Purple Gospel]

David Gibbons, lead pastor of NewSong Church, articulates what it means to be a third culture church and a third culture leader in his new book The Monkey and the Fish: Liquid Leadership for a Third Culture Church (which I picked up recently at the National Pastors Convention and can’t wait to read!).  You can see a great clip of how this third culture thinking has been lived out in the life and history of NewSong Church at  A quick definition of third culture:

the mindset and the will to love, learn, and serve in any culture, even in the midst of pain and discomfort.

As an Asian American, this third culture thinking resonates deeply with me.  For many of us, our very sense of self has been lost somewhere in the shuffle between neither Asian nor American.  Finding that — in, through and because of Jesus — I can be a both/and person (as opposed to neither/nor or even either/or) has been so life-giving.  Not only to ground my Asian-ness and American-ness in Jesus, but to see how this third culture generation might become a redemption movement for Him.