Presentation on theme: "Living at the Crossroads: A Faithful, Relevant Witness"— Presentation transcript:
1Living at the Crossroads: A Faithful, Relevant Witness Chapter 8
2Comprehensive Vision for Cultural Engagement Jesus Christ is Creator and Redeemer of all thingsSalvation is restorative and comprehensiveChurch is called to witness to this comprehensive salvation
3Evangelicalism and Comprehensive Salvation Early 20th century: Salvation otherworldly, individualistic, dualisticRetreat from cultural engagementDid not see gospel as transforming power of all of human life
4Retreat into Private Religion As our concern over rampant secularization increases, we may in fashioning a missiology of Western culture easily be seduced into concentrating on the “religious” aspect only, leaving the rest to the secular powers, not least because these powers exert massive pressures on the church to limit itself to the soul of the individual. This is, after all, in keeping with the Enlightenment worldview: religion is a private affair, its truth claims are relative and have no place in the public sphere of “facts.” But Christian theology itself also contributed to this notion, as it increasingly individualized, interiorized, ecclesiasticized, and privatized salvation (David Bosch).
5Evangelicalism and Comprehensive Salvation: Turnaround in late 20th c. Carl F. H. Henry challenged narrow mission of the church
6Challenge to Evangelicals Whereas once the redemptive gospel was a world-changing message, now it was narrowed to a world-resisting message Fundamentalism in revolting against the Social Gospel seemed also to revolt against the Christian social imperative It does not challenge the injustices of the totalitarianisms, the secularisms of modern education, the evils of racial hatred, the wrongs of current labor-management relations, and inadequate bases of international dealings.
7Evangelicalism and Comprehensive Salvation: Turnaround in late 20th c. Carl F. H. Henry challenged narrow mission of the churchLausanne Covenant (1974) and World Evangelical Fellowship (1983)
8Evangelical Mission Statements “The salvation we claim should be transforming us (2 Cor. 3:18) in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead (James 1:14–26).” (Lausanne Covenant)“Evil is not only in the human heart but also in social structures The mission of the church includes both the proclamation of the Gospel and its demonstration. We must therefore evangelize, respond to immediate human needs, and press for social transformation.” (WEF)
9Examples of Missionary Encounter Christian businesswoman and profit motiveChristian graduate student and power of secular universityChristian social worker and humanist psych hospitalChristian history teacher and public schoolChristian athlete and greed in professional sportChristian politician and liberal government
10Critical Participation Participants in our culture who “love and cherish all its created goodness”Yet critical participants who reject and challenge the idolatry that twists itInvolvement and separation, solidarity and opposition
11In the world but not of it Jesus’ Prayer for His DisciplesI have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.- John 17:14-18
12Dilemma of the Believing Community Solidarity: Part of western cultureCreational mandate: responsible for cultural developmentChrist’s redemption is comprehensiveHave good news for healing of cultureRejection: Whole of western culture distorted by sinful idolatryFundamental incompatibility between Scriptural and western storyDanger: Relevance may lead to unfaithfulness; attempts to be faithful may lead to irrelevance
17Tension Between Gospel and Culture The deeper the consciousness of the tension and the urge to take this yoke upon itself are felt, the healthier the Church is. The more oblivious of this tension the Church is, the more well established and at home in this world it feels, the more it is in deadly danger of being the salt that has lost its savour.- Hendrik Kraemer
18Unaware of unbearable tension The problem of leading a Christian life in a non-Christian society is now very present to us. It is not merely the problem of a minority in a society of individuals holding an alien belief. It is the problem constituted by our implication in a network of institutions from which we cannot dissociate ourselves; institutions the operation of which appears no longer neutral, but non-Christian; and as for the Christian who is not conscious of his dilemma—and he is in the majority—he is becoming more and more de-Christianized by all sorts of unconscious pressures; paganism now holding all the most valuable advertising space (T.S. Eliot).
19How Do We Live Faithfully at the Crossroads Between Two Stories? Withdrawal: Cultural separation/irrelevance (reject cultural story)Affirmation: Cultural captivity (affirm cultural story)Dualism (affirm part, reject part)
21Withdrawal StrategyRejection of culture because it is disfigured by sinRightly understand:Not of this worldGospel judges cultureChrist against cultureIsolation, ghettoizationFossil, irrelevant
22Withdrawal...Rightly understands antithetical religious commitments of different communitiesWrongly believes cultural flight is right or possible
23Solving the unbearable tension WithdrawalAccommodation
24Accommodation Strategy Affirm culture because it is creationalRightly understand:In the worldGospel affirms cultureChrist of cultureAbsorption, compromiseChameleon, syncretism
25Solving the unbearable tension WithdrawalAccommodationDualism
26Dualism Rightly understands: Christ above, in paradox with culture Creational life is sharedMuch truth, justice, etc. in the worldChrist above, in paradox with cultureWrongly sets aside all-encompassing religious beliefs
27Solving the unbearable tension WithdrawalAccommodationDualism
28The Gospel speaks:Word of grace… culture is good creation [structure]Word of judgement… culture is idolatrously twisted and sinfully distorted [misdirection]Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil (I Thess. 5:21f).
29Biblical Position: Affirmative/Antithetical Approach to Culture Gospel/YesAt homeGood creationMay not withdrawRejectGospel/NoAt oddsSinful distortionMay not accept status quo
30Missionary’s Inner Dialogue Way of being in the culture; state of mindDesire to live in both worlds fullyFaithfulness to Biblical storyViews all of culture through lens of ScriptureSeeks to discern idolatrous twisting of words, institutions, cultural practices, etc.Seeks to discern creational structure
31A Biblical ExampleJohn’s use of classical categories
38John 1:1,14 In the beginning was the logos... ...and the logos became sarx.
39New translation or articulation of the gospel is both: Relevant: He uses language of classical dualism familiar to hearersFaithful: Challenges the idolatry of the classical dualism
40Subversive Fulfillment Fulfills religious longing for order and origin (creational)Subverts idolatrous understanding
41Another Biblical Example: Household OIKOS: extended family in Roman empirestructured hierarchically and oppressivelyFundamental social building block of Roman empireUndifferentiated institution made up of marital, family, economic, political relationshipsOppressive and hierarchical distortion
42Response of the early church Reject?Affirm?Transformed! (Eph. 5:21-6:4)
43Subversive Fulfillment Discerned creational relationshipsTransformed relationships creating new institution recognizable as good news to culture
44Cultural Discernment What is the creational insight or structure? What is the idolatrous distortion or direction?What kind of healing action is possible?
45Faithful Cultural Strategy Faithfulness and relevanceAvoid withdrawal, accommodation, common groundAffirms both responsibility for cultural development and antithetical challenge to idolatrous developmentAffirmation, rejection, healing
46A Communal Witness Importance of callings of individuals in culture “A missionary encounter with the West will have to be primarily a ministry of the laity.” (Bosch)“The primary witness to the sovereignty of Christ must be given, and can only be given, in the ordinary secular work of lay men and women in business, in politics, in professional work, as farmers, factory workers and so on.” (Newbigin)
47A Communal Witness Importance of callings of individuals in culture Danger of individual witnessCommunal witnessAlternative community
48Alternative Community “The most important contribution which the Church can make to a new social order is to be itself a new social order.” (Newbigin)The church is called to embody a different form of life, to be an alternative community, a countercultural body, “a visible, beckoning, hope-giving, guiding sign of the shalom of the kingdom.”
49Alternative Community in West A community of justice in a world of economic and ecological injusticeA community of generosity and simplicity (of ‘enough’) in a consumer worldA community of selfless giving in a world of selfishnessA community of truth (humility and boldness) in a world of relativismA community of hope in a world of disillusionment and consumer satiationA community of joy and thanksgiving in a world of entitlementA community who experiences God’s presence in a secular world
50A Communal Witness Importance of callings of individuals in culture Danger of individual witnessCommunal witnessAlternative communityOrganizations in various sectors of public life
51Organizing for Public Witness Corporate witness in politics, trade unions, media, education, etc.“Without a proper organizational association we cannot meet our common responsibility in various respects.” It will be difficult to meet our Christian responsibility especially in scholarship and politics “without associating ourselves organizationally with one another.” (Herman Ridderbos)
52A Communal Witness Importance of callings of individuals in culture Danger of individual witnessCommunal witnessAlternative communityOrganizations in various sectors of public lifeEquipping members for active and informed participation in public life
53A Merciful Witness Mercy and justice “We must do both: we must care for the victim of disaster or injustice, and we must also undertake those measures of social engineering or revolution which are needed to prevent disaster and injustice from happening.” (Newbigin)
54A Merciful Witness Mercy and justice Siding with the poor and oppressed
55A Tolerant and Suffering Witness Tolerance and pluralismPrincipled or committed pluralismEach community maintains faith commitment as trueRespectful dialogue between competing truth claimsDiffers from ‘agnostic pluralism’ of humanism
56A Tolerant and Suffering Witness Tolerance and pluralismPrincipled or committed pluralismNo coercion or power for kingdomWitness to not building of kingdomWitness in public life will bring suffering
57Suffering and witnessMissionary encounter with idolatrous power brings conflict and sufferingMission under the cross“If we take seriously our duty as servants of God within the institutions of human society, we shall find plenty of opportunity to learn what it means to suffer for righteousness’ sake, and we shall learn that to suffer for righteousness sake is really a blessed thing.” (Newbigin)
58A Faithful Witness Pressure to conform to idolatry Need for spirituality and community“If there is a committed people as the sign and agent and foretaste of what God intends, it can only be insofar as their life is continually renewed through contact with God himself.” (Newbigin)
59If the church is indeed to be Jesus’ agent in bringing his whole agenda to his whole world, it needs his own Spirit. Indeed, if the church attempts to do what has to be done without constantly seeking to be fi lled and equipped by Jesus’ own Spirit, it is committing blasphemy each time it opens its mouth. This is not a plea that all Christians should enlist in the charismatic movement. Rather, it is a plea that all Christians, particularly those involved at the leading edge of the church’s mission to bring healing and renewal to the world, should be people of prayer, invoking the Spirit of Jesus daily and hourly as they go about their tasks, lest they be betrayed into the arrogance of their own agendas or into the cowardice of relativism (N.T. Wright).
60Supportive community: Urgent plea to pastors Are we taking seriously our duty to support [our lay people] in their warfare? Do we seriously regard them as front-line troops? What about the scores of Christians working in offices and shops in that part of the city? Have we ever done anything seriously to strengthen their Christian witness, to help them in facing the very difficult ethical problems which they have to meet every day, to give them the assurance that the whole fellowship is behind them in their daily spiritual warfare? (Newbigin addressing pastors)
61Need for community Nourished by Scripture, prayer, fellowship, worship Supported by encouragement, prayer, counsel, financial helpEquipped to fulfill task in community
62Following Jesus Essenes withdrew Saduccees accommodated Pharisees retreated into organized religionZealots employed coercive strategyJesus call to uncompromising and suffering witness to kingdom
63Church: Salt, Light, and a City on a Hill You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:13–16)