(edit: I forgot to give this a title and the blog called it ‘1561’. That is not my cumulative total of posts, yet. Now it has a proper title.)
Last time Tim Keller named “The Big Issues facing the Western Church”.
1. The opportunity for extensive culture-making in the U.S. [relevant in Australia, as well]
2. The rise of Islam.
3. The new non-western Global Christianity.
4. The growing cultural remoteness of the gospel.
5. The end of prosperity?
This time he asks (and answers) “How Should Churches and Leaders Be Preparing to Address These Big Issues Facing the Church?”
1. The local church has to support culture-making.
2. We need a renewal of apologetics.
3. We need a great variety of church-models.
4. We must develop a far better theology of suffering.
5. We need a critical mass of churches in the biggest cities of the world.
Each of these points receives a detailed expansion from Keller. Some excerpts:
Point 2: “All young church leaders should take courses in and read the texts of the other major world religions. They should also study the gospel presentations written by missionaries engaging those religions. Loving community will be extremely important, as it always is, to reach out to neighbors of other faiths, but if they are going to come into the church, they will have many questions that church leaders today need to be able to answer.”
On point 4: “There are a great number of books on ‘why does God allow evil?’ but they mainly are aimed at getting God off the hook with impatient western people who believe God’s job is to give them a safe life. The church in the west must mount a great new project–of producing a people who are prepared to endure in the face of suffering and persecution.”
An interesting contribution that seeks, I think, to challenge the church not to retreat into itself in the face of a contemporary society that considers it an irrelevance. To follow that path is to marginalise itself.
The human hearts that represent contemporary society have never been any lesser or greater distance, ie. closer or further away, from the Gospel. The opportunity with which we are now presented is that this unchanging distance is actually clearly appreciable.
Keller is seeking to engage them so that the Gospel can be communicated.