You are currently browsing the daily archive for April 19, 2018.

The Great Commission stands at the center of Christianity as the command of the risen Lord Jesus Christ for his church to proclaim the name of God in the world for the sake of all nations and God’s glory among them. The church fulfills the commission by making disciples of Christ, teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded his church to believe and obey (Matt 28:18-20). Evangelism that calls sinners to repentance and spreads the fame of God’s name, then, is at the very heart of the mission of God’s people.

EVANGELISM IN A POST-CHRISTIAN WORLD

Every culture and civilization embraces a certain set of assumptions about life, truth, significance, and what it means to be human. Without these shared assumptions, societal life would be impossible. Individuals within these societies may not give much active thought to these common assumptions, but their decisions, expectations, and general dispositions reflect the presence of these assumptions as what some philosophers call background ideas.

Out of these assumptions an entire way of life emerges. Background ideas move into the foreground as morals, manners, and the culture at large begins to reflect the decisive influence of these ideas. In America, an identifiable “American way” of life rules as an operational worldview for many persons — perhaps even replacing more fundamental convictions.

The “American way” involves, among other things, patriotism, a sense of fair play, equality, personal autonomy, and limitless opportunity. We expect each other to respect these assumptions and ideals. Americans are not sure what to do with ideals of equality and fairness, but we are generally certain that equality and fairness are the right categories to employ, regardless of the idea or context.

Looking at these same issues, Peter Berger — now in his tenth decade of life and one of the most influential sociologists of our day — wrote years ago in his book, The Heretical Imperative that the “heretical imperative” of the modern era is the imperative to choose. In Berger’s analysis, in the premodern era one did not need to choose one’s beliefs. Instead, in the West, virtually everyone was born and baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. In other words, identity was externally fixed for individuals. In the modern secular world, however, this is no longer the case. Choice is endemic in every area of life — we simply cannot avoid it. As a result, Berger concludes that in the modern age we must take responsibility for our identity. It is no longer given; it is self-determined.

In our culture, people who think themselves autonomous will claim the right to define all meaning for themselves. Any truth claim they reject or resist is simply ruled out of bounds by society at large. We will make our own world of meaning and dare anyone to violate our autonomy.

This is why evangelism is often perceived as insensitive or even threatening in our culture. Evangelism demands that we press the authority of Scripture and the claims of Christ on sinners as we invite them to the free gift of salvation provided through Christ’s atoning work.

In a post-Christian age, evangelism will be met with one of three responses. First, evangelism will be met with hostility. This will not necessarily take the form of overt action. But, at least in the immediate future, much of this hostility will look like cultural marginalization. Anyone caught inviting sinners to repent of their sin and turn to Christ will be seen as backwards or even culturally subversive.

Second, evangelism will also often be met with befuddlement. In a world that has lost fundamental Christian presuppositions about the holiness of God and human accountability, the call of the gospel will more often perplex than infuriate. The plausibility structures of society are so different from our own that many people simply cannot understand us.

Finally, we will find that we will not only be met with hostility and befuddlement, but also indifference. Many in our society will not even care enough about our message to spend their energies either in hostility or befuddlement.

For the rest of the post…

Advertisements
April 2018
S M T W T F S
« Mar   May »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  

Archives

Twitter Updates

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Advertisements