Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Communicating Sin to an iGen

A few days ago, I wrote a post quoting Tim Keller on "Communicating Sin to a Postmodern". Keller suggests it is helpful to communicate "sin is primarily idolatry."

Here is another example of communicating need from Scott McKnight. In his article, "The Gospel for iGens", he draws from Alan Mann's book, Atonement for a Sinless Society, and concludes, "For a person to feel guilty, that person must have a sense of morality." That appears lacking in this postmodern culture. So, how do you demonstrate need in a compelling (rather than repelling) way? McKnight suggests:
"...I have found that the self-in-a-castle feels shame about systemic sin, and their sensitivity to things like AIDS, poverty, and racism leads inevitably to recongizing the sin in each person. At some point in this movement to the castle door, the iGen will realize that systemic sin is linked to personal sin. Suddenly he or she feels accountable to God."
The whole article is worth the read. But I am intrigued comparing traditional "sin is falling short" messaging, with the approaches of both Keller ("sin is idolatry") and McKnight ("systemic sin links to personal sin").


Humans are Lovers

Is determining one's worldview going deep enough in effective (cross-cultural or missional) evangelism?
"Humans are not primarily or for the most part thinkers, or even believers. Instead, human persons—fundamentally and primordially—are lovers."
From a review of James A. K. Smith's Desiring the Kingdom.

Perhaps we need to go below the worldview to the heart. Thoughts?

Failure in Communication

Came across this quote about communication:
"Failure in communication generally comes about because of our inability to reverse roles … to put ourselves in the position of those we seek to communicate with."
— John F. Budd Jr.,chairman, The Omega Group (as quoted in Wylie's Writing Tips")

What are the implications for effective witness?

Evangelism in a Postmodern Age

I have been asked to do a two-part seminar at the MidSouth Christmas Conference for Campus Crusde for Christ on "Evangelism in a Postmodern World." My description of the session is:
“The times they are a changing” and so must we. Yet to be effective and authentic witnesses, it is essential we understand what must and must not change. This biblical framework will enable us to explore our cultural landscape and adapt to our audience. Practical help will be given in engaging others conversationally, communicating the gospel and dealing with the beliefs that stand as barriers to faith in Christ.
It is important to note, this is a seminar whose main subject is evangelism, not postmodernism. Postmodernism is the context, not the main subject. With this focus on conversational evangelism, my list of recommended readings include:
  • Davy, CoJourners: Joining Others in Spiritual Journey (A Transferable Concept). CruPress, 2007.
  • Geisler & Geisler. Conversational Evangelism: How to Listen and Speak so You Can Be Heard. Harvest House Publishers, 2009.
  • Moreland & Muehlhoff. The God Conversation: Using Stories and Illustrations to Explain Your Faith. IVP, 2007.
  • Newman. Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did. Kregel Publications, 2004.
  • Pollard. Evangelism Made Slightly Less Difficult: How to Interest People Who Aren’t Interested. IVP, 1997.
  • Pollock, Doug. God Space: Where Spiritual Conversations Happen Naturally. Group, 2009.
  • Richardson. ReImagining Evangelism: Inviting Friends on a Spiritual Journey. IVP, 2006.
  • Sire. Why Good Arguments Often Fail. IVP, 2006.
Would you add any?

God is OmniPresent

This quote from AW Tozer's The Knowledge of the Holy:
God is over all things, under all things; outside all; wthin but not enclosed; without but not excluded; above but not raised up; below but not depressed; wholly above, presiding; wholly beneath, sustaining; wholly within, filling. (Hildebert of Lavardin)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Communicating Sin to a Postmodern - Tim Keller

This summer I heard Tim Keller speak on the gospel. I was struck by a statement he made about how he communicates sin to the postmodern listener. Now I discover he has written an article articulating it, "Talking About Idolatry in a Postmodern Age".

While recognizing sin can rightfully be defined as "law-breaking", when it comes to evangelism among postmoderns, Keller uses a different tack, "I define sin as building your identity—your self-worth and happiness—on anything other than God."

He writes: "

I ordinarily begin speaking about sin to a young, urban, non-Christian like this:

Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.

Why take this approach? Keller suggests two reasons. First, this definition convicts both the "prostitute and the pharisee", the ungodly and the self-righteous. It is the latter group that is more offensive to the postmodern. Second, this personalizes sin for the postmodern and they offer little resistance to it, while "law-breaking" assumes agreement on which laws.

Fascinating approach to getting to the heart of the issue of sin. Your thoughts?