Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I was reading a book from the $1 pile at Mardel's. You'd be surprised at what goodness can be snatched out of the remainder pile. The book is called Live to Tell by Brad J. Kallenberg. He's a professor at Dayton and works in campus Christian ministry. I'm not going to try to sum up the book, as I am still trying to "get it" but he had this fabulous quote. It's even more fabulous when seen through the prisms of these blog entries by John Meunier and Andrew Conard.
Thus the most liberal of churches appear able to maintain the best of relations with secular culture, but no longer have anything distinctive to say to it! Righteousness has been reduced to equality, agape has paled to fraternity, sin has been replaced with maladjustment, and salvation has become mere civility.
The failure of liberalism, then is not one of intent--Schleirmacher sincerely wished his friends to embrace Christianity--but one of strategy: by attempting to translated the gospel into terms understandable to the modern mind, the liberal wing of the church lost the farm. My fear is that the conservative wing of the church, for all its emphasis on missions, evangelism, and church growth, is simply reproducing an already deeply flawed strategy. (p. 52)
Often the liberal church has lost its distinctive. It's distinctive is God, in all His persons. I still look back to Paul telling the Corinthians--this is the second time I have found myself thinking of this Scripture--that preaching Christ was a stumbling block and an offense. Here's the passage, from 1 Corinthians 18-25.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

Not that we should be running around intentionally being offensive, but know that we preach Christ to sinful people who are not always ready to stop clinging to their sin, and they will throw up objections and be offended by the claims of Christ. This is all part of the process of evangelism. I have believed that evangelism is a process culminating in a crisis for a long time. Sometimes the process is short, and sometimes long. God is a patient God, not willing that any should perish, and He treats us like the individuals we are.

In the meantime, the church must never stop preaching the offense of God. We must keep our distinctive, otherwise the church becomes just another good civic organization. And we must keep up with our times, knowledgeable about the culture around us, but definitely different from it. Our biggest distinctive is love--the love of God that sent Christ to the Cross and empowers the Holy Spirit to guide and change lives. It must be shown to each other, as the Scripture instructs, and to the non believer.

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