Wednesday, December 28, 2005

In the November 2005 issue of Christianity Today, Philip Yancey raises the question: Exploring a Parallel Universe: Why does the word evangelical threaten so many people in our culture?
He writes about the
tirade against "right-wing evangelicals."

He goes on to describe how the left tends
to regard evangelicals as morals police determined to impose their ideas of proper behavior on people who do not share their beliefs.

He goes on to describe how one person, Josh,
told us about his sister, now a conservative evangelical. She had been a drug addict, unable to hold a job or keep a marriage together. "Then one day she found Jesus," Josh said. "There's no other explanation. She changed from night to day."

Josh asked me to recommend some books by C. S. Lewis or someone else who could explain the faith in a way that he could understand. "My sister sends me Christian books, but they're totally unconvincing," he said. "They seem written for people who already believe them." I happily complied.

Reflecting on our conversation, I remembered a remark by Lewis, who drew a distinction between communicating with a society that hears the gospel for the first time and one that has embraced and then largely rejected it. A person must court a virgin differently than a divorcée, said Lewis. One welcomes the charming words; the other needs a demonstration of love to overcome inbuilt skepticism.

Bingo! Much of conservative evangelicalism still thinks of Canada as a Christian country. I'm not sure where they are living, even here in in Waterloo, which has a strong evengelical voice, is by no means Christian.

Yancey goes on...
I thought, too, how tempting it can be — and how distracting from our primary mission — to devote so many efforts to rehabilitating society at large, especially when these efforts demonize the opposition. (After all, neither Jesus nor Paul showed much concern about cleaning up the degenerate Roman Empire.) As history has proven, especially in times when church and state closely mingle, it is possible for the church to gain a nation and in the process lose the kingdom.


The Righteousness of God said...

I like of the best books I ever read was 'So what so amazing about Grace'.

RE: 'Evangelicals' and other names. I wish we would quit sorting humans into piles of positional theology and behaviour. Can Christians stop drawing lines in the sand....makes me puke. If ya got sort . . .sort into two piles that God has - those who are reconciled and have experienced his Grace and those who reject Him. Believers have been extended mercy - and commanded to extend it unconditionally.

Another Grace Writer knocks down walls: "Unlike their Father, performance based Christians accept other people according to their conduct. One walking in grace accepts people on the basis of unconditional love. This doesn't suggest a blanket apporval of all behaviour, but grace allows one to accept and love others regardless of their actions. Legalist set out to change what people do. Grace looks beyond what others do and affirms them for who they are, encouraging them to live up to their identity. Legalists heap guilt and shame on those who fail to measure up. A gracious Christian loves unconditionally." Mcvey - Grace Walk.

I haven't even seen anything scriptural to suggest that denominations are okay. We either are the church (a people not a building)or we are not. We know his voice and he knows us!

pastor mike said...

Yancey's "What's so amazing about Grace" is a great read.
Yancey is responding to the use of the term "evangelical" by those who are not Christians - he is not attacking - in fact, Yancey is making the statement that it is necessary for the church to redefine who it speaks and ministers into the world, by being careful to not demonize those outside the family of God.

The Righteousness of God said...

Christians are quick to sort themselves into many piles - sects and propetuate the stero-typing to non-believers.

I am guilty of doing it - I tell people that I don't belong to any denomination! (LOL)

Those outside of the family - are also created in the image of God. I use to think with my own filtered eyes that only believers were created in the image of God as outlined in Genesis. But this is not so...non believers have some of God's DNA. Even evil people will sparkle at times with awkward forms of love and kindness.

pastor mike said...

There are 2 kinds of people... those who divide people into 2 kinds of people and those who pretend they don't.

You are right in recognizing that everyone is created in the image of God... but it's so much easier to demonize people if you think of them as less than you :-)