This is the first part of my notes and thoughts on Tim Keller’s message The Sufficiency of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World. Minute markers are in red.
The Sufficiency of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World
Intro by John Piper
How do we do evangelism in a postmodern world? The postmodern world presents a crisis to us.
Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones talks about Mark 9. Jesus sees the disciples who could not cast out a demon. In vv 28-29 the disciples ask, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?” Answer: “This kind only comes out by prayer.”
The demon is in too deep. You are business as usual. Your ordinary way of doing things won’t work.
The Doctor is allegorizing here. The disciples are like the church. The boy is like the contemporary world.
6:00 In earlier days people were apathetic. They needed to be roused from their slumber and apathy. The spirit of this age is different.
The western world is now a mission field. It is a post-Christian mission field. It is has been inoculated to Christian message.
Lesslie Newbigin says the same thing. Most Americans feel that they already know about Christianity, and they think it is bad.
What won’t work anymore is a campaign, a program, a gospel presentation.
9:00 A great book, The Barbarian Conversion, by Richard Fletcher. Looks at 500 to 1500 AD in Europe. Most of the countryside was pagan. It took a long time for people to get the full Christian worldview. But after 1500, most Europeans had a Christian worldview, and programs and campaigns worked.
Now we are back to the point at which the Christian worldview is no longer accepted. Ordinary evangelism will not work.
There are still sections of America where there are people who are what Flannery O’Conner would call “Christ-haunted” people. They are traditional in their values. They just need to be roused.
14:00 Michael Wolf – There is a fundamental schism in American life. Urban-oriented, morally relativist, etc. and the small town traditional, etc. Two nations. There are fewer people who are Christ-haunted.
Certain evangelistic magic bullets have died on the vine. Billy Graham crusades- no one thinks that’s the future. Evangelism Explosion worked well then, but not now.
16:40 1990’s used the seeker services. Too early to say that’s over, but 20-somethings are turning away from the traditional church services.
Alpha courses are the new best format. They are right for our time. But even this is not enough anymore.
18:00 There is going to have to be a complete transformation of everything by the gospel. The gospel has to recapture us, or nothing will work. The demon is in too deep.
Now in a postmodern setting, our traditional evangelism is even less effective, because you have 3 problems:
1. The truth problem – all truth claims are perceived as constraints and power plays.
2. The guilt problem – not everyone has the sense that they need to be good.
3. The meaning problem – there is a doubt that text and words can get meaning across. Meanings are unstable.
Interesting that Lloyd-Jones allegorizes from Mark 9 instead of using a text that directly supports the points. eg 1 Pet 3:15, or becoming all things to all men.
Not everyone has a postmodern worldview. Many people have a jumbled mess of a worldview. This is hitting on good points, but the approach has to be crafted to the woldview of the specific individual. Also, we have to listen to people and understand them to know what approach is appropriate.
Guilt problem- many have no guilt problem (they feel lots of guilt), or they feel the church is the guilt problem. We need to break down stereotypes of the church.
Read Full Post »