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Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys: A Native American Expression of the Jesus Way

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  278 ratings  ·  57 reviews
One of Seedbed's 10 Notable Books from 2015

The gospel of Jesus has not always been good news for Native Americans. The history of North America is marred by atrocities committed against Native peoples. Indigenous cultures were erased in the name of Christianity. As a result, to this day few Native Americans are followers of Jesus. However, despite the far-reaching effects
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 9th 2015 by IVP Books
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Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The atrocities committed against Native Americans are well documented. What makes the story even more tragic is the way Christian mission was wrapped up in the story of western colonialism. The missionaries told the Indigenous peoples about Jesus; yet they also demeaned and destroyed native cultures. The city I live in Florida (Safety Harbor) is the site of early mission efforts and where the first missionary was martyred (Luis Cancer de Barbrasto). He died trying to reach a people group that no ...more
Joseph Hood
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When I was 16, I went on a mission trip in Shawnee, Oklahoma. We were housed by an indigenous church in one of the poorest parts of the country, and the fellowship hall had a mural of the last supper that I photographed. I took the picture because it was so different; the 12 disciples around Christ were Native chieftains. At the time, I thought it was strange that such an inaccurate representation of the last supper would be up in a church. Oh how wrong I was. I had never considered the fact tha ...more
Willie Krischke
This was interesting to read. I know most of the people Richard tells stories about, and knew Richard. A lot of the stories he tells I've heard before, from him or others.

I really enjoyed the imagined sweat lodge conversation in the middle. That was definitely my favorite part.

It suffers because it is so clearly an adapted dissertation, and there's so much jumping through hoops to satisfy the requirements of the program. Richard was a fascinating and brilliant man, and a great storyteller and
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-the-shelf
This is a powerful and dangerous book. Powerful because it highlights the legacy of the late Richard Twiss (and others) who worked so hard to break new ground in living out a discipleship to Jesus in the context of Native American lifeways. It's dangerous because it undercuts the assumptions and colonialism of Euro-American Christianity - calling into question the means and ways of historical missionary endeavors as they relate to indigenous peoples. In the same motion - it points a prophetic fi ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“It is out of this seedbed of honesty, forgiveness, and humility that an Indigenous Christianity can grow – an Indigenous Christianity that seeks the peer respect of the treaty-making native of Native people. This is a Christianity that seeks the least in its midst as having a legitimate voice. This is Christianity that listens like a brother and fights like a warrior for the vulnerable in its midst. It is a Christianity that is not afraid to laugh at itself and at the pretensions of leadership ...more
Jerry Eaglefeather
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Having known Richard and ministered together with him. I know his works are all excellent. Being a Native this work is so important. Love all of Richards works. I highly recommend this book as well.

Jerry Eaglefeather
Eagle Circle Drum Ministries
Mookie J
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: culture
The book was interesting, but not what I thought it would be. And it took a long time to read. Thought-provoking, left me longing for more, but left me longing for more.

As I started reading, it felt very scholary & heady. Then it felt more like a resource book, telling me where to go to find out information. At last, I realized it was more of a history book documenting The Native American Church attempts to decolonize and establish a contextualized Christian community.

I think I would have enjoye
Adam Shields
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Short Review: Christianity is not a culturally constrained religious experience. Both Acts and many places in the Pauline letters detail the conflict between those that wanted Gentiles to become Jewish before they become Christian and those that wanted Gentiles to become Christian without forcing them to adopt a new culture. This is a conflict that has happened repeatedly throughout Christian history.

I think one of the reasons why books like this are so important is that if we are culturally is
Caity Gill
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Written in a very academic style, almost like a textbook, so it’s not an easy read. But so informative. I see many themes in this book that I have seen elsewhere in the church. The fear of being liberal or unbiblical leading to major rejection and hurt of many people. Also, the effects of hundreds of years of injustice still being very much felt today.
Jonathan Puddle
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly helpful and insightful unpacking of the history of Indigenous Christian experience and challenges, and a hopeful vision of the future. Also simply contains some absolutely brilliant theology in its own right. Highly recommended reading.
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I took a star off because it read like a theology textbook and I wish he could have dumbed it down for the working class (me) but that is the only complaint I have to make of it
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I needed to read this book. I think every Christian in North America needs to read this book.

Twiss offers an account of what Native North American Christianity looks like when Native individuals and communities are at liberty to follow Christ using the resources of their culture.

The book has many facets to this. One part charts the theology of colonialism that caused Europeans to demonize and subjugate Native North Americans. Sadly this theology is still all too present in our churches. I admi
Carol Blakeman
It was written as a doctoral dissertation and it mostly reads a such.

I totally agree that many early missionaries did great harm in trying to force cultural assimilation on America's native peoples. The Apostle Paul said "I have become all things to all people, that by any means I might save some." Jesus Christ came to live on this Earth as a person that looked no different than anyone else. Thus, it is the missionary's duty to learn the ways of the people, the language, the rhythm of daily li
Joel Wentz
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
As someone who has lived squarely in the middle of Anglo-European expressions of Christianity, this book was quite an eye-opener. Twiss makes an impassioned and compelling case for "critical contextualized" gospel ministry to Native peoples. In theory, this seems like a no-brainer: of course Native people should be able to express their Christian faith in a way that makes cultural sense! And before reading this book, I had no idea that such a sharp debate, even within Native evangelical circles, ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I have a deep sympathy for Native Americans. The more I read about their history the more saddened I am but no longer surprised. This really puts an excellent (and accurate) perspective on sheer prejudice to the point of imposing drastic change to another's culture and religion. This makes an excellent point about the Puritans and the whole idea of the USA being founded as a "Christian nation". Would authentic Christianity do what was done to the Native peoples in this country? I don't think so. ...more
Bob Wolniak
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian
Twiss defends a contextualized indigenous ministry model, but the book is so much more. Take for example the chapter on colonization to contextualization which challenges even our understanding of progress of the Gospel in helpful ways. Not only is this provocative reading relevant to Native ministry in the US but to anyone seeking to understand racism, the spread of the gospel, Urban Indian migration, a theology of Creator and land, and the European missionary movement in the Americas. A bold, ...more
Grant Swanson
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For American Christianity to mature and reach a diversifying nation, leaders need to take the advice of Twiss. We must recognize that Christianity is not synonymous with hegemonic white American culture. It is intercultural. If American Christianity continues to deny this potential for growth and maturity, it will die. Everyone must read this! Twiss' wisdom from listening to the Holy Spirit could save us all. ...more
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I continue to be amazed by Richard Twiss' wisdom and count myself blessed to be able to learn from him through his book. It is well worth the read. Here's a great review from the blog The Well. ...more
Jul 19, 2018 added it
This book gave me lots to chew on. I hope to come back and write a more complete review within the next few weeks. For now, I'll just say that I'm glad I read it. ...more
Dave Holt
Sep 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommended to Dave by:
In 2013, we mourned the early death of Richard Twiss, a great American Indian spiritual leader. He was also known by his Sicangu Lakota name, Taoyate Obnajin. He had lived his life “praying and seeking Creator for better ways to communicate the wãstè wiconi ‘good life’ possible in Jesus.”
Sojourner’s magazine wrote “His was among the first voices to challenge the church to examine its “good news” for the corrupting influences of cultural empire.”
Even though he threw down such a challenge, Richa
Mar 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely necessary, incredibly thorough, essential reading if you want to understand what decolonizing Christianity looks like, understand the violent history of missions in this country, and the beauty of contextualization and storytelling.

Richard Twiss was an Indigenous leader and organic intellectual, who passed away in 2013. His book was published post-humously; the fruit and labor of his dissertation. He addresses the violence of damaging, genocidal four-hundred-year history of colonizat
Beth Peninger
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am grateful that this book was put on my radar. It would not have been, I don't think, had I not been invited to review it for someone. A list of books was presented for my potential review and I chose this title because I have been interested in the REAL history of First Nations people for a few years.

Richard Twiss, now deceased, wrote the majority of this title as his dissertation. It is equal parts research and story as Twiss lays out the case for contextualization within the Indigenous cul
M Christopher
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was blessed to attend a workshop with Richard Twiss at Seattle Pacific University early in my pastorate in Greater Seattle and was, like many, shocked by his sudden and too-early death at 58. This book was in process when he died and finished by his friends and colleagues, Ray & Sue Martell. Despite their efforts, the result is somewhat raw & unfinished -- probably closer to the dissertation from which it was to be an adaptation than Twiss intended. And, as noted by others of his friends in an ...more
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Twiss presents a challenging reminder of the way explorers, colonists, missionaries, and the American government treated the indigenous populations over the course of several hundred years. As I read, I reflected on my own history lessons which skimmed over the injustices, riddled with racism and unfounded assumptions, in favor of the victory story of Manifest Destiny.

And yet, this book is not about that but rather an exploration of ways that Christianity is embedded into a culture. My worship
The other John
I've heard said that one measure of a good college education is one that challenges your beliefs. I was expecting that for my daughter as I sent her off to college. What I didn't think about was how my beliefs might be challenged as she started sharing ideas (and books to read) with me. Richard Twiss was an activist, author, and, most importantly, a Lakota follower of Jesus. In Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys, he shows how Christian missionaries served (either knowingly or unknowingly) as a ...more
Apr 04, 2021 rated it it was ok
Twiss, a Native American Christian leader and founder of Wiconi International ministry, wrote this book to emphasize the importance of enculturating the Christian message to Native American culture - in contradiction to how past missionaries and pastors, in his view, have unfairly denigrated that culture.

As a Christian myself, I enthusiastically agree with him that enculturation is important. We shouldn't needlessly alienate people from the church. But, I would feel more reassured if he displaye
James Wheeler
What does it means to be native american/first nations and seek to incorporate the traditions of your tribe with the stories and truths of historic Christianity? This book is at points heartbreaking to read and also really hopeful. The stories of those deeply wounded and devastated by the loss of their first nations roots or language is tragic and it seems to me, that the re-discovery and pride in first nations tradition is a significant part of the work for healing.

I appreciated Twiss' even ha
Grant Everly
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While I can't say the writing is extraordinary, the content is essential. Twiss is a Native American Christian whose voice provides extraordinary insight that every American Christian would benefit from. It should be mandatory reading for those going into ministry or missions work. Twiss argues for Critical Contextualization as a missiological strategy, arguing that the gospel comes embedded in societal and cultural practices that don't necessarily need to be condemned. Twiss challenges us to ri ...more
May 10, 2021 rated it it was ok
How do you worship the Christian God as a member of the group of original settlers of North America, descended from people who arrived long before the European immigrants arrived? Richard Twiss, or Tayoate Ob Najin (“He stands with his people”) to use his native name, has an answer. In these papers edited and published posthumously by his friends, he argues for inclusion of native languages and traditional rites like the use of tobacco, sweat lodges, drumming, chanting, and sacred dancing. Using ...more
Richard Twiss, a Native American Christian set out to explore and eventually offer guidance for how Native Americans can contextualize their Christian Faith in their Native American cultures. Based on Twiss' doctoral dissertation, this book is part explanation and part exhortation for other Native American Christians to integrate their practice of faith with traditional indigenous practices such as drums, burning sage, sweat lodges and pow-wows. Not appreciating the meaning of these rituals for ...more
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“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22). While these fruits, qualities, values or characteristics are universally true for all people, how did they find expression, uniquely, in each local culture?” 2 likes
“The real aim of colonialism was to control the people’s wealth, what they produced, how they produced it,” Ngūgī wa Thiong’o sees the way that control was introduced and managed was to deconstruct the people’s sense of self and replace it with that of the colonizer. This would occur when a people’s perception of themselves and their world was overthrown.” 1 likes
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