Christianity is changing. Of course it has always been changing – I read once that christianity owes a lot of its success to its adaptability to circumstances and culture. But like most other things, it seems to be changing faster these days.
But this is only one side of the story. At the same time, a significant number of people from a non-religious background are choosing to believe. I have taken an interest in finding some of their stories.
If you were an aspiring christian missionary, would you take your wife and three young children deep into the jungles of West Papua to a headhunting, cannibalistic tribe who valued treachery as a virtue? Nope, I don’t think I’d have the guts either.
But Don Richardson did. And God blessed his sacrificial ministry.
It is a phenomenon reported by pollster George Barna, observed by many of us and experienced by some – feeling dissatisfied with church. Not just complaining that something isn’t perfectly the way we like it, or disliking the people, but feeling deeply alienated from the church system and knowing deep down that Jesus never meant it to be like this.
The question is, what to do about it? Tell yourself everyone else can’t be wrong so it must be you, and just grin and bear it? Quit church altogether? Join another church (often only to find it’s different, but still the same)? Give all your energies to making change? Or start a new church?
One Laptop Per Child is a US-based charity which is seeking to create affordable educational devices for use in the developing world. Due to the difficulty in providing and funding teachers in some locations, it has tried the innovative, perhaps crazy, idea of leaving laptop or tablet computers with kids without any instructions.
Outcomes have been mixed, and interesting, and have something to teach us.
The Anabaptist are a often forgotten part of the christian church. We know about the split which separated the eastern Orthodox churches from the Roman church. In the west we are more familiar with the Reformation, where the Protestant churches split from the Roman Catholic church. But there was a third group in the Reformation, persecuted and maligned by both sides, but growing in influence today – the Anabaptists.
This book outlines what Anabaptists believe, and why they are coming into greater prominence.
LLM posted an interesting quote from Tim Keller in her blog, Enough Light. Here is a part of it:
“in general, religiously observant people were offended by Jesus, but those estranged from religious and moral observance were intrigued and attracted to him. We see this throughout the New Testament accounts of Jesus’s life. In every case where Jesus meets a religious person and a sexual outcast (as in Luke 7) or a religious person and a racial outcast (as in John 3-4) or a religious person and a political outcast (as in Luke 19), the outcast is the one who connects with Jesus and the elder-brother type does not. Jesus says to the respectable religious leaders ‘the tax collectors and the prostitutes enter the kingdom before you’ (Matthew 21:31).
What is the future of the church as we know it in the western world?
I have written about this many times (see The future for the church), believing that much needs to change. It is like the tide is coming in, the island the churches are sitting on is shrinking, our feet are wet, yet things are just going on as normal.
But bit by bit, the evidence keeps coming in (just like the tide), that one way or another, things will indeed change.
I have previously posted on the various views christians have on who will be saved (Can only christians be saved?). The exclusivists say only those who specifically believe in Jesus. The universalists say everyone, eventually. And the inclusivists say anyone who follows whatever light they have been given.
Recently I came across a quote that showed Billy Graham’s view.
Evangelical christianity has historically had a strong emphasis on personal salvation, which it sees as coming from repentance and faith in Jesus’ atoning work on the cross. This is generally seen as the main purpose of Jesus’ life and death.
This basic evangelical teaching can be drawn from the letters of Paul (although some theologians question this), but it isn’t so easily seen in the life and teachings of Jesus. Perhaps we need to re-think?