Monday, October 01, 2007


Out of Ur, the Christianity Today website has a very good post on evangelism as frequently practiced by evangelicals. You can read the whole thing here; it is actually part one, but the second part hasn’t appeared yet. Here is a short snippet:

I believe one weakness in evangelicalism the emerging church is responding to is evangelicalism's excessively rationalist approach to truth and salvation that birthed a stubborn "we're in/you're out" mentality. There has been an impulse in evangelical fundamentalism towards a.) an intolerant judgmental exclusivism, b.) an arrogant, even violent, certainty about what we do know, and c.) an overly-rationalized hyper-cognitive gospel that takes the mystery out of everything.

Many of us grew up with this. This was most obvious in the way we made hell the selling point of the gospel. We said if you do A and B you’ll be pardoned from sin and escape hell. Those who do not do A or B are going to hell. We built an apologetic that defended this to prove to people outside the church they were doomed. It came off arrogant, coercive, unloving, and indeed antithetical to the very nature of the gospel.

He continues, a little later:

If you ask me whether I believe there is a hell I will tell you yes. To me the reality of hell is evident in the evil and destruction of souls I see here on earth all the time. If you ask me whether I believe that the salvation God has worked through the person and work of Jesus Christ has direct consequences on our eternal destiny as persons, again I will tell you yes. But if you ask me whether this singularly defines what it means to be saved, here is where I would say no. For our eternal life is the end of a life lived in His salvation (Rom 6:22), not the goal in and of itself. And so let's not put the cart before the horse.

<idle musing>
Yes! Salvation is more than “getting to heaven;” actually, heaven has little to do with salvation. Salvation is salvation from sin—not just individual sins, but SIN. Systemic sins, personal sins, all have to go for the kingdom of God to become reality. The grace of God delivers us from personal sins, and by the grace of God we work to eliminate systemic sins. It is no accident that John Wesley started schools for the miners’ kids. It is no accident that Christians were on the front lines in the abolitionist movement. It is no accident that William and Catherine Booth worked in the inner city. But, somewhere along the line evangelicals lost that cutting edge and became comfortable with the status quo.

I suspect that one reason we don’t see real revival is because christians don’t want to repent and change. Revival always starts with the house of God; if we won’t repent and turn from our wicked ways, how can we expect the world to turn from its wicked ways? And, the truth be told, far too frequently the wicked ways of the christians are more wicked than the wicked ways of the world. That is a travesty!
</idle musing>

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