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Monday, July 23, 2007

The wanderer returns

For the 100s; well...10s; erm, anyhow, for those who have wandered where I might have wandered I return to the blogosphere.

Life has been mightily busy as always but I have also been considering more seriously a book that I want to write and I have been completely engrossed in reading "Confessions of a Philosopher" by Bryan Magee. This is a wonderful and insighful introduction to the complexities of philosophy.

For the past couple of years I have tried, in my spare moments, to try and get a grasp of the basics of philosophy. I have a strong sense that, in order to pursue my thinking about Moltmann's "Theology of Hope" and its' implications for evangelism in a postmodern world I need to gaina grasp of some basic philosophical ideas.

Both of these projects are somewhat in their infancy but Magee's book has given me some great starting points as well as whetting my appetite to purchase "The Open Society and its' Enemies" by Karl Popper. I fear that this post will be vague and rambling but I hope to develop some of my journey and invite wider conversation.

Rather than jump even further around I will outline the basic premise of the book project. I have made procrastination an advanced artform but I feel the time is at hand for me to commence actual writing.

Evangelism seems to me to be based on satisfactorily explaining propositional statements to someone who would have an understanding of the Christian gospel which could range from no knowledge at all to being very "churched" (to use a modern term).

The propositions can be presented at a variety of intellectual levels and via a range of media but the basic content includes the fact that God became flesh when Jesus was born as a human; Jesus lived a sinless life and died upon a cross in order to take upon himself the sin of the world; Jesus rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand side of the father in heaven interceding for his followers (Christians).

If the person hearing this message agrees to the propositional statements then the next step is for them to say a prayer asking Jesus to be Lord of their lives. If they do not agree then further discussion may be had until finally a point may be reached where they might be considered not to have accepted the gospel.

There are some points of the gospel message that I want to explore in light of "Theology of Hope" but my first concern is with the fact that "traditional" evangelism focusses on what Jesus has done in the past. Forgiveness of sins is primary and the new believer accepts Jesus as Lord and Saviour in order to receive forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life.

This focus seems to me to offer very little in the way of hope for this life. Without getting into details personal experience of the evangelical church over a 10 year period has demonstrated many people who, to all intents and purposes, live exactly the same lives as their non-Christian neighbours except that they attend church on a Sunday, possibly a mid-week bible study and, in some cases, they may make peronal time to study the bible alone but my basic premise remains, namely, that many Christians live similar lives to non-Christians except in the fact that they may live morally better lives.

What this means for fulness of life for the Christian and for evangelism is that in a post-modern (and possibly post-church) world is that the gospel message sounds empty. I have found in my own efforts to explain the gospel that people understand the basic concepts and may even find them somewhat appealing intellectually but reject them because they see no need to make a commitment when they feel that life is what it is.

Even writing this outline presents to me the size of the challenge that I am setting myself but I believe that I need to find a way to integrate, primarily, Moltmann's thinking into a 21st century evangelistic paradigm. This is not to say that is I want to water down the gospel but, rather, to open it up to its fullest potential in order to liberate individual Christians and to advocate a gospel which is truly hope-full.

What I would like to ask is that these ideas are critiqued and honestly evaluated. If it has all been said and done before I'd like to know. If there is merit then I'd also like to know. If anyone has ideas on appropriate directions for me to pursue this then I am open to advice. If you know of anyone who would be interested in these proposals then please point them in the direction of the blog. Thank you.