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Proclaiming Jesus in Grace and Truth. The gospel in a post-Christendom, post-modern, pluralist age. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Letters and Papers from Prison).

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Proclaiming jesus in grace and truth

Proclaiming Jesus in Grace and Truth

The gospel in a post-Christendom, post-modern, pluralist age

Dietrich bonhoeffer letters and papers from prison
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer – Letters and Papers from Prison)

‘what is bothering me … is the question what Christianity really is, … who Jesus really is for us today. The time when people could be told everything in words … is over … religion is over. … How can Christ become the Lord of the religionless as well? What is a religionless Christianity?’

Mission and change
Mission and change?

Eternal Gospel


400 BC

600 AD

1500 AD

2000 AD

Early Church





Changing expression – David Bosch ‘Transforming Mission’

Post christendom

Church attendance 2005

76% of New Christians Come from 26% De-Churched

finding faith today 1992

65% Non Churched

This section of the population is older and decreasing over time

26% De Churched

9% monthly

Post christendom1

Not just about church attendance

  • Grace Davie,

    - Believing without belonging and vicarious faith

    • But changing belief

    • Fading of occasional office

    • Decline in Christian identity

  • Stages in the decline of Christendom not a new way for it to persist

Post modernity modernity to postmodernity
Post-modernity?Modernity toPostmodernity

I tell my story

I choose my beliefs

truth as fact

truth as experience

I buy my identity

The logic of consumerism

What is truth
What is ‘Truth’?

  • Towards the post-modern

    • Nietzsche

      • The Death of God (the madman)

        The Gay Science 1882

      • The displacement of the real

        ‘Down with all philosophies that speak of a real world’

        Twilight of the Idols 1888

    • The Matrix

      ‘Welcome to the Desert of the Real’

From text to hyper text
From Text to Hyper-Text

  • Reader response – we tend to read our own meanings into texts

  • Deconstruction – texts have meanings under the surface which are as ‘true’ (Derrida)

  • Computerized communication

    • Changeable

    • Open to all

    • Overwhelming volume of shorter work

    • Difficulty of assessing content

The post modern problem
The post-modern problem

  • The truth behind ‘the many truths’

    • ‘All is the Will to Power and nothing besides’

      Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil 1886

  • Post Modernity as Liberation?

    • Richard Rorty, Henry Giroux & Francois Lyotard

    • We are free from the tyranny of the norm, we can celebrate being black, white or… women, men or…Gay, Straight or… Kosovan, Serbian or….(The critique of the tyranny of modernism)

  • Or Essential Violence – Darwin? Capitalism?

    • ‘Humanity does not gradually progress from combat to combat until it arrives at a universal reciprocity, where the rule of law finally replaces warfare; humanity instils each of its violence's in a system of rules and thus proceeds from domination to domination’

      Foucault A Foucault Reader Penguin 1984 p85

    • ‘The advent of democracy, international courts instead of war, equal rights for women (are all signs of) the slave morality of the herd’ – ‘the hero will come to lead the herd in replacement for the dead god’

      Nietzsche On a Genealogy of Morals 1887

Post secularism
Post- Secularism?

  • Post-modernity - multi-faith in a post-secular age

    • Post-modern move from truth as fact to truth as experience - From universal truth to true for me may be different to true for you.

    • Rejection of objectivity for subjectivity

    • Personal belief re-enters the public square

    • Any and every belief …. All are equally unprovable

    • All of this much to the annoyance of Richard Dawkins…….

      and Christians?

    • Religion once more on the agenda but any religion with no way back to Christendom …..indeed is Christianity disadvantaged compared to the alternatives?

Spiritual experience in 2000 vs 1987
‘Spiritual’ experience in 2000 Vs 1987

55% saw a patterning of events – up 90%

38% felt God’s presence – up 41%

37% had answered prayer – up 48%

29% felt sacred in nature – up 81%

25% the presence of the dead – up 39%

1987 48% report a spiritual experience - 2000 risen to 76%

25% the presence of evil – up 108%

But what are they experiencing?

Australian gen y like britain
Australian Gen Y – like Britain? palmists

Rationalist humanist

Non believing 14%

Moral relativism, pick ‘n’ mix, truth in all religions but not just one, something ‘out there’ occult and paranormal experienced

BUT open rather than committed or seeing as important

Includes neo pagans and followers or frequent participants in the esoteric/occult



‘new spiritual’ 23%

Religious 17%

Japan britain
Japan Britain palmists

Consumer christianity1
Consumer Christianity? palmists

  • God the cosmic therapist?

  • Cruise liner – or Battleship?

    John Wimber

  • Church shopping?

    • Looking for what I get out of it

    • Looking for the one that does things my way

  • Buying religious product?

    • Baptisms & weddings

    • Rosaries

    • Retreats

    • Christmas Carols

I am the way the truth and the life
I am the way the truth and the life palmists

  • John 14:1-17 in today’s culture.

  • Parallels with John 1 – I AM – Jesus as the expression of God’s Character as Grace and Truth

  • The Way the Truth and the Life all expressions of Jesus Character rather than doctrines about him

  • But none of that changes the reality that he is the expression of God in the way and not a way, a truth and a life but The way, The truth and The life

  • Modern pluralism does not affirm different faiths.

  • Assuming that God is at work in all but all need Christ whilst admitting we can’t know we haven’t got this wrong is the way of grace and truth

Who are on the way
Who are on the way? palmists

Bounded set ? Or..

Who are on the way1
Who are on the way? palmists

Bounded set ? Or…….Centred Set?

Who are on the way2
Who are on the way? palmists

Bounded set ? Or…….Centred Set?

Religion in post modernity
Religion in post-modernity palmists

  • Religion expresses the issues facing culture (Strauss, Durkheim)

  • Religion as expression of consumer choice

    • New Age? Prosperity Gospel? Spirituality?

  • Religion as celebration of ontological violence

    • New Atheism vs. fundamentalism?

  • Religion as an answer to the problem of unity and diversity

    • Contemporary Paganism? Gaia?

Lessons for sharing faith
Lessons for sharing faith palmists

  • People increasingly come to faith through experience rather than changing thinking

  • People want to grow spiritually and will take support in this seriously

  • Sharing faith is welcomed. Telling others what they share is wrong simply closes the conversation

  • People aren’t interested if Christianity is true but if it is inspiring and life changing

  • with the internet everything is public be consistent

  • We need to know how we will handle issues of gender, the environment, evil, other-faiths

  • Avoid Christian language like sin, salvation, redemption etc people don’t understand it or misunderstand it – but we still need to talk about them but with different words

  • We need to live as if what we say really does work

  • Remember God transforms people not Christians

A religionless evangelism is
A Religionless Evangelism is?….. palmists

  • Not getting people to Church ………………..….……..

    but getting people to be Church

  • Not taking God to people …………………………………

    but seeing what he is already doing in their lives

  • Not first about getting people into heaven ……………

    but getting heaven into people

  • Not saving people from the world ..…………………..

    but allowing God to transform them

    as part of a plan to transform the world also

    Your Kingdom come your will be done

    on earth as it is in heaven