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Gospel and Context in Creative Tension. SEMS 24 th May 2010. Three Realities of the Global Church. A global church World population (2008) of 6,691m 2,231m Christians (self-designating) 255m Evangelicals, found in every country on the planet Very few from major world religions

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Gospel and Context in Creative Tension


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    1. Gospel and Context in Creative Tension SEMS 24th May 2010

    2. Three Realities of the Global Church • A global church • World population (2008) of 6,691m • 2,231m Christians (self-designating) • 255m Evangelicals, found in every country on the planet • Very few from major world religions • The church in Europe in rapid recession

    3. Christendom—A Crumbling Civilization • fourth century to mid-twentieth century • state recognized dominant organized church and church legitimated rule of dominant class • territorial division into parishes

    4. Post-Christendom Shift • church attendance and influence in the lands of Europe, N. America (except US?), and Australasia has been in marked decline • “a culture in which central features of the Christian story are unknown and churches are alien institutions whose rhythms do not normally impinge on most members of society” (Stuart Murray) • church moved from centre to periphery

    5. A Translatable Message • gospel message is inherently translatable • believers in Antioch (Acts 11:20) • church to be doctrinally exclusive but culturally diverse (Acts 15) • missions under Christendom • ‘Christianity, commerce and civilization’ (Livingston) • post-colonial reappraisal

    6. Gospel in South Asia • Muslim majority - Pakistan and Bangladesh • more Muslims in India than any other country after Indonesia • majority of the world’s roughly 850 million Hindus live in South Asia • resistant peoples

    7. Traditional Approaches to Muslim Evangelism • focus on doctrine and apologetics • comparison of Islamic teaching with Christian teaching • argumentative and confrontational • frustration with little fruit

    8. ‘Whole World Mission’ in Gaziville since 1955 lack of fruit in 1970s review of methods by team Phil Parshall’s ‘New Paths’

    9. Financial relationships with nationals • Missionary lifestyle was to change • Islamic dress • beards • simple lifestyle • Islamic diet - no pork • approach to time • picture-taking and visits discouraged

    10. 3. Islamic-style worship practices adopted • place for washing before prayer • removal of shoes • sitting on floor • Bibles placed on folding stands • Muslim-style prayer • Christian words were set to Muslim tunes and chanted • pragmatic setting of days and times for worship

    11. fasting • homogeneous churches would be planted • church organization along lines of mosque • Muslim names would be retained • ‘followers of Isa’ or MBBs • Bible study, prayer and fasting • converts choose their own leadership • the propagation of the gospel would be centred along family and friendship lines

    12. Bangladesh India Philippines other countries The Model Spreads

    13. More Radical Approach • not MBBs but Muslims (‘one who submits’) • may continue to attend the mosque for prayer to Isa • attempts in at least Afghanistan, Indonesia, southern Thailand and Malaysia

    14. C-Scale for Muslim Contextualization • C1 Traditional Church Using Outsider Language • C2 Traditional Church Using Insider Language • C3 Contextualized Christ-centred Communities Using Insider Language and Religiously Neutral Insider Cultural Forms

    15. C4 Contextualized Christ-centred Communities Using Insider Language and Biblically Permissible Cultural and Islamic Forms • C5 Christ-centred Communities of ‘Messianic Muslims’ Who Have Accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour • C6 Small Christ-centred Communities of Secret/Underground Believers

    16. defining Hinduism Orientalist paradigm defining ‘religion’ and ‘mysticism’ Hinduism as a civilization caste the fundamental social order incarnational approach to presenting Christ to Hindus New Paradigms for Understanding Hinduism

    17. H-Scale for Hindu Contextualization • H1 Traditional Christians separate themselves from everything “Hindu” • H2 Traditional Christians renounce Hinduism but still accept some non-religious Hindu cultural practices • H3 Hindu Christians renounce Hindu religion for Christianity, but adapt Hindu religious and cultural practices

    18. H4 Hindu disciples of Christ do not develop contextual expressions of discipleship • H5 Hindu disciples of Christ seek to develop contextual expressions of discipleship • H6 Hindu disciples of Christ recognized as such by other Hindus but remain unassociated with other disciples of Christ • H7 Hindu disciples of Christ keep faith completely private

    19. The Gospel as Prisoner and Liberator of Culture Two principles in creative tension: • ‘indigenizing’ principle • a place to feel at home • the particularizing factor • ‘pilgrim’ principle • no abiding city • the universalizing factor

    20. Responding to Post-Christendom • post-Christendom a God-given opportunity • loss of biblical literacy • little or no experience of church • ‘mission from below’ • points of contact • new models of church planting

    21. Church Planting Models in Post-Christendom Context

    22. Ecclesiological Responses to British Multicultural Society

    23. Default Monocultural

    24. Ideal Multicultural

    25. Pragmatic Multicultural

    26. Strategic Monocultural

    27. Issues for Further Thought Some issues for further thought: • critical realistic approach to knowledge • uniqueness of Christ subversive • cultural pluralism • narrative • meaning and significance of the city • meaning and significance of community • bounded sets, centred sets and fuzzy sets • technology