Preparing for Exile … But How?

Preparing for Exile … But How? June 16, 2015

In Aussie evangelical circles there is a debate going on about the church going into a cultural exile and what we should do about it.

The first is by Steve McAlpine over at TGC-A on Stage Two Exile: Are You Ready For It?

He argues that we need to face a culture in which we not simply ignored but despised:

We need to be able to pick our way through language minefields without blowing our legs off. And that will take hard work. Foaming-at-the-mouth ranting—the rage of the culturally impotent—is no option, but neither is the surrender of our thought and language categories to the culture. We need to learn to speak truth to power, just as I was taught in my Arts degree back in the 80s, only this time the roles have been reversed. What was marginal in the universities of the 80s is mainstream political language of the 21st century. I observed even yesterday in a social media exchange that a hard secularist was more than happy to use the thought categories of “insider/outsider”, “sinner/saint”, “heresy/truth” “god/devil” in defending his position. Faced with no original language of his own to describe his anathema to the Christian position, he simply said “Don’t mind me!”, leaned across and took ours! And here we were being so careful to be seen not to cut anyone with our language. Neither will a personalised, pietistic “Jesus is my homeboy” theology-lite stand up in the face of a public reshaping of language. Exile Stage One proponents must unlock the armoury door, whet the stone and sharpen the tools of language once more, not in order to slay people, but in order “to contend for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

The second is by Karina Kreminski over at Missio Alliance on The Church in Post-Christian Exile: But Should We Really Respond Like its a War?

She argues for a less adversarial approach to culture and dismissing the rhetoric of warfare. She writes:

[W]e need to ascertain if we are reacting to the continuing demise of Christendom or whether our faith is actually under threat. In my opinion, if we for instance react with hostility toward the government’s refusal to fund chaplains in schools, as is being debated in Australia, this is a reaction centred around the continuing ending of Christendom. However, if we react towards a culture which does not let us as Christians express our opinion on same- sex marriage for example, unless it coincides with the prevailing cultural view, then we can say our faith is under attack. The former in my opinion is not a legitimate rationale for hostility. The latter is a legitimate complaint since an opinion is being stifled in a democratic society. I think that discernment here is key. If like the Israelites in Babylon we are longing for the return of the way things were, while our anger and grief may be legitimate, we must recognise this new and different space that we are in now and discern God in that place. This does not mean we do not take action when needed, but it does call for a realistic and sobering perspective on the times we live in. In the West, Christians live in post- Christendom times.

Let me ask, which of these two approaches do you must resonate with and why?

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