In his final session with Newfrontiers Keller highlighted that we find relating to the culture to be an increasing problem in the West. We now have a post-Christian culture. The Anglo-saxons struggled with Christianity because it believed in forgiveness and compassion for the weak. They felt that culture couldn’t survive without respect and fear. Northern European paganism was bloodthirsty and power hungry. Christianity changed the attitudes to the poor and weak. Society now says we don’t need Christianity because we care for the weak, and we forgive.
They have robbed christianity of all their assets but thrown out God. The claim is that we dont need God to have a society. Lets be Christian for 2000 years then throw it out, and maybe it works. We have a new situation. Secular societies in Europe are living off the plundered capital of Christianity. But we have earned the scorn of the unbelievers.
The old problem of paganism is the idea of individual power which is creeping back in. At the street level increasingly as Christianity recedes life will be based on individual power and exploitation. Europe almost needs to get really non-Christian to get Christian again. It has many of the benefits and refinements of a Christian civilization but has lost the heart.
Have to reflect more and more about how to relate. Three wrong ways to go and one right.
1. Defensive against
- triumphalism, Marked by the Christian right. Attitude is that largely through politics we need to take back the culture by taking Christian values and making sure the law upholds them. No distinction between private and public. Get back into corridors of power. Get legislation.
2. Purity from
They say that Christians shouldn’t try and purify society at all. Neo-Anabaptist – form counter cultures but don’t salt society. Just win souls. Stay away.
3. Relevant To
Christians are so out of it we need to change. Make our music and message are culturally relevant. Hip. Get updated.
4. Faithful presence within
We are not trying to take over nor trying to be absent. We need to be willing and able to take our people into the financial world, the arts, the academic world, movies and TV. Be in all those places. Going to them to serve. We have to help people integrate their faith with their work. Churches tend to pull people out of their world into the church. “I want to teach you how to run a bible study and eventually become an elder”. We need to help people to know what kind of roles can I accept as a Christian actor. What I am doing is important.
You are salt of the earth. This is about being a preservative, medicine and seasoning. Serve people changing people, leavening. If you are not salt you are sand. It’s tough not to suck up to the culture and compromise. We must be faithful.