The summer sermon series included interviews and answers to the questions submitted by our congregation. The topics ranged from human sexuality including homosexuality and sex outside of marriage; a Christian perspective on drugs and alcohol including addictions; Islam; suffering; brokenness; the impact of the Gospel on Culture; cultural engagement in new contexts to name a few.
I was impressed with the courage of our pastoral leadership team to engage in these controversial topics. The presenters combined excellent biblical foundation with modeled discernment and grace which is exactly what this culture needs – respectful conversations. These were not presentations to preach against all the ills of our culture. They were, rather, an offering of the reality of what we are living with in a postmodern world plus how to converse in a respectful way with the issues in order to accurately present Christ.
Too long we have attacked issues instead of building bridges and seeking a hearing for the Gospel. We must learn to live the Gospel relationally.
Helping with this need is Philip D. Kenneson’s book Life on the Vine, Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit in Christian Community. In it he offers, “Every generation in every culture must take up the hard work of discerning the opportunities for and the obstacles to embodying the gospel faithfully in that place and time.” (241)
Kenneson presents a model of Christian discernment. He combines rich, theological grounded reflection on Christian life and practice with stunning cultural analysis. It is one of those must read books which a professor friend of mine figures out a way to assign to every class he teaches.
There are too many issues to get resolution on. We need help and guidance from respected, biblically grounded cultural interpreters. An excellent online daily commentary on truth and culture is Dr. Jim Denison’s. You can sign up for The Denison Forum at www.denisonforum.org It is difficult to stay abreast of all the issues confronting Christian values. This forum helps.
Director of Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center, Dr. Darrell Bock’s podcasts at www.dts.edu/thetable/ offer timely presentations on engaging the culture and can be recommended to anyone who is eager to be relevant without marginalizing.
If you want to get some encouragement and direction for having respectful conversations, I highly recommend checking out the resource at www.fellowshipdallas.org/media/ .Check the media section and watch some of the interviews on the topics mentioned at the beginning of this blog.
We cannot ignore one of the best examples of respectful conversations in the way Saint Paul engaged the culture in Athens found in Acts 17:16 -34. Read and analyze it for yourself. It is a fascinating window into the first century skill and savy of Paul who desperately wanted people to know the risen Christ.