Even the churches now that are most determined to proclaim that "original orthodox Gospel," as they see it, of personal salvation, pay attention to their corporate and community life. They are calling people into relationships in a way that the traveling evangelists never did. In fact it's very significant that we have no traveling evangelists now to speak of. All the evangelism that is happening now is happening in local church communities. The age of the tent, where individuals came and maybe had an encounter, is over.

Must we have a this-worldly form of salvation in order to be relevant and credible to a scientific, worldly age?

The cosmos is cooling, entropy is increasing, and this world will fade into nothing. If you want a scientific truth about this world, it is that it is going to end not in fire but in ice. Every atom will one day cease to move. If our hope is in this world, no matter how much good we can do in our brief little lives within it, then we have no hope truly. There must be a hope for a world beyond this world. And our responsibility in this world is to bring into this world signs of the world to come.

A this-worldly religion is not enough to tear me away from Starbucks and the New York Times on a Sunday morning. If our hope is only in this life, then let's eat, drink, be merry, and die. The eternal life we have to offer is not disembodied, it's not ‘souls', it's restored, renewed bodies, and the only example we have so far is the resurrected Jesus -- that Jesus who eats fish, walks through walls, speaks, breathes. That's where we're going. And if we aren't offering that hope, then we really have no hope.

See more of Andy at Patheos here, or visit his website.