The oddness of living post-Christendom

Iain made a comment on the previous post about the post-Christian cultural context in which we now live, and the sheer lack of understanding of Biblical/theological references that is now general amongst the Scottish population. I take the point, but it is more complex than just ignorance… Pre-Christian societies are simply ignorant of the gospel. Nobody knows anything; the evangelist must start from scratch, finding culturally-meaningful resonances that start to make gospel narratives comprehensible. Meeting a new person, it is a very safe bet that they know nothing of the gospel, have no memory of Biblical narratives, and have no inkling of central theological concepts (‘grace’; ‘redemption’; ‘incarnation’;...

Read More

‘the fuel for mission’s flame’?

I was on a website recently (no url, to protect the guilty…); in the corner was a counter, which purported to tell the visitor how many people had died and gone to hell since s/he arrived, with a brief homily underneath suggesting that active participation in evangelism would be an appropriate response. The crowning glory of this particular piece of crassness was the fact that whichever cheap/free html counter the website owner had borrowed counted to one decimal place. When I left, apparently, 153.7 people had been irretrievably damned during my visit. This came back to mind as I drove my daughters to school and nursery this morning. Matt Redman’s Facedown was in the car CD player, and I listened to the penultimate track: Let worship be the fuel for...

Read More

Chris Moyles’s commentary on charismatic worship

For those who don’t know, Chris Moyles is the most popular radio presenter in Britain; his morning show, on BBC Radio 1 (essentially a mainstream pop music station), attracts approaching 8m listeners. This video contains an extract from his show dubbed over the TV broadcast – of baptisms in a church in Peterborough – that they are discussing in the extract. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StEDAjhuiTo] Four things strike me about the comments, considered as useful data for missional concern in the UK: 1. Moyles (who is 35) and his posse belong to a generation that is no longer reflexively cynical about church. Britain, and Europe, is often described as ‘post-Christian,’ but this phrase can mean two very different things, or so...

Read More

Incarnational ministry

The SST conference this year was particularly good. (The conference is always a great time of meeting old friends; this year several of the papers – Webster; Kilby; Sarot – were excellent as well, which is not always the case; and more folk from St Andrews attended than has been common recently, which was also a plus for me.) A recurrent theme of bar conversations (where all the best theology gets done at SST) was ‘buzzwords’: language that sounds positive and resonant, but on examination is unreflective, ill-defined, and so dangerously meaningless. ‘Participation’ was one such; ‘incarnational’ another. ‘Incarnational ministry’ seems still to be a popular phrase. As far as I can tell, its meaning, to the...

Read More

What is evangelism?

Someone told me yesterday about a book – it doesn’t matter which – on personal witness, that included chapters such as ‘preparing to evangelise’ and ‘what to do after you’ve evangelised’. The language grated, and I’ve been trying to analyse why. The implicit assumption in the language (and, it seemed clear from the description, in the book) is that ‘evangelism’ is a discrete, verbal activity that consists essentially of stating a small number of particular theological propositions (concerning universal sinfulness; atonement in Christ’s death; and the need for personal appropriation of that atonement) in the hearing of someone who is not yet a Christian believer. Now, I am not, of course,...

Read More
get facebook like button