Thoughts from Jean Corbon for Eastertide.

I was introduced to Jean Carbon only recently by my good friend John Armstrong of ACT3(Avancing the Christian Tradition in the third millennium). His comments about  God’s plan revealed in Scripture as mystery is the theme for my personal study & devotions during this year’s Eastertide observance.

As I began the 50 day adventure, I read an excellent post by an Orthodox Priest, Father Stephen, “Beyond Pascha“. In order for you to have a place to begin in considering Jean Corbon’s thoughts about liturgy, I think it will be helpful to start with something Father Stephen said in his post:

Just as the modern world has little understanding of the meaning of fasting, so, too, does it fail to understand the meaning of liturgy. Liturgy is not a means of marking time on a calendar –  liturgy is a means (and mode) of existence.

The Liturgy of the Christian mystery

After John’s introduction, I decided I needed to read Jean Corbon for myself and so I ordered “The Wellspring of Worship”  (2005, Ignatius Press). This is one of the books I’m now reading and from which the following comments are taken.

Everything that can be identified as a peculiarly Christian truth is, in one way or another, a derivative of the one central truth that man was created in order to live forever in personal communion with the Holy Trinity.

The explicit revelation of the transcendent goal of man’s existence was given in and through the history of Jesus of Nazareth and the history of the special mission of the Holy Spirit that followed upon his death, Ressurection, and glorification.

That is one reason for celebrating Eastertide as a continuation of Easter. This is the special time to contemplate all that has happened in the Incarnation event that we have celebrated from Christmas through Easter, pausing as it were before we come to Ascension and Pentecost and beyond.

With the sending of the Spirit from the Father through the risen Lord to bind believers to the beloved Son, and so bring them into personal communion with the Father of all, the ecclesial body of Christ was born.

The Church of Jesus Christ is the concrete place in history where this trinitarian mystery is explicitly proclaimed and accepted, where the Father’s offer of self-communication through his only Son and his Holy Spirit finds a free response of praise and thanksgiving.

This mystery is represented and shared in a festive way in the liturgy of the Church; it is continually offered and accepted in all the dimensions of the daily life of faith.

Read an excerpt from “The Wellspring of Worship” by Jean Corbon.

A related review of James Torrance’s book, “Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace”  (IVP 1996).

More resources at my “Open Secret” page.

Once again my good friend John Armstrong at ACT3 has put his finger on a major weakness in our American churches. It comes on the day before we Americans go to the polls to choose our national leaders. What he has to say about the absence of prophetic preaching in the pulpits of America and spiritual leadership by vision, has much to do with the challenges our larger society is facing at this moment. In “What  happened to Prophetic preaching”? He writes,

John H. Armstrong, Director ACT3

“The vast majority of pastors, as revealed in a number of surveys, declare that leadership is their greatest weakness. They admit to having become managers of ecclesial organizations and speakers in churches on Sunday. But less than 10% (in one survey) said that they believed they were leaders. A leader exercises influence, casts vision and helps people to follow that vision. Modern ideology and modern ways of training men and women for pastoral ministry have impacted the church profoundly in this area. We need to understand how and why and what we can do about this problem.

Our schools have prepared future ministers to be students who can exegete a text, clinicians who can listen and help people in personal crisis and managers who can direct programs and serve the social structures of the church. But they have not conveyed clearly how to be a godly, praying, spiritually-formed leaders who can inspire and build up people in their daily lives. And they have not been taught how to prophesy the Word of the Lord.

In my lifetime I have seen the role of the pastor change dramatically. I remember my childhood pastors being shepherds of people and leaders who gave a vision to our collective witness. I held my pastors in high esteem. Today this has changed. Pastors are much less accessible to people, far less able to cast clear vision, and churches collectively languish in spirit. This has created a tragic gulf between leaders and people. People now demand managers for the church. They do not want prophets who will challenge them to think and become truly different in faith and virtue.”

I personally believe this is one of John’s better messages to the churches and the way forward in the future.

The entire article available as   Prophetic Preaching Pastors (pdf).

Recommended reading: The Work of Preaching Christ (1864)

Your Church Is Too Small: why unity in Christ’s mission is vital to the future of the church. (Zondervan) 2010

A personal review of this new book on the 130th anniversary of the birth of my maternal grandfather, Henry Thomas Young. Personal, because I need to admit upfront that the vision that is so clearly and concisely stated of the Christian church as she has entered the third millennium, the vision of ACT3 is the same vision behind E4Unity Institute.

John H. Armstrong, Director ACT3

The author has placed his life-journey out on the table for all to see. In doing so, he shows us what a passion for Jesus Christ, his church, and the divine mission they are on together in this present age looks like for the eternal blessing of the nations.

My personal sense is that perhaps the best way to describe what we have in this book is a “handbook for observing the unity of the church” in her relationship to the Christ of God. John Armstrong has gone to great lengths to tell us exactly where we are and where we have come from and remind us who we are and what we have been called to both be and do on planet earth. This is the reason, he tells us, why he wrote this book and why he believes that the greatest scandal of all is our disunity before our neighbors and our watching world.

Handbook for promoting Unity

Here is a very wise collection of the realities of our divisions set in the larger context of the vision of  our oneness in Christ and his mission. It’s obvious that John has discovered for himself something of the incredible bigness and largeness of the Christian church. With the help of a glossary of terms we will need to understand the vision, the author takes us through a personal narrative in a helpful and logical progression for the reader to follow.

Beginning with Jesus prayer for our unity (John 17:20-23), John gets into the heart of the issues involved: love-our greatest apologetic, the essential nature of the church (four classical marks), all the while stressing Christ alone as the Biblical focus. The reader is at once aware that the author is deeply involved with a much larger conversation and celebration than what most of us are accustomed to. He is listening to a host of others from the first century church to the contemporary one. He is conversing with brothers and sisters from multiple traditions and denominations such as Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Pentecostal, and of course his own Reformed tradition.

He tells us about those who have been some of the helpers along his journey to seeing the vision of unity. Men like J.I.Packer, Francis Schaeffer, and Leslie Newbigin. John is honest with us about how hard it was to begin to see the ecumenical movement of the twentieth century in positive terms. But he insists that the church will need all the wisdom and experience of the saints in previous generations to equip us for the advance of the Christian gospel and the Kingdom of God that is now before us.

The one thing I probably liked most about this book is that it lifted my own heart to new levels of expectant hope in what God will yet do in and through the community of His exalted and beloved Son. I think he has nailed the major obstacles to “growing up into the fullness of Christ” together. These barriers are not really those outside the church but ones inside us all. In the very beginning he stresses that it is our own vision problem “our common penchant for placing limits on Christ’s church…”. One of the greatest challenges that confront us is that which John describes as “sectarianism”, or the evil that equates the one church with “our own narrow views of Christ’s body”. There is a brief but excellent treatment of this and the topic of “the true church” and this is one of those themes addressed directly on this blog. We simply cannot continue as we are- separated and disobedient to the clear imperatives of our Lord. There are answers for the one who seeks them and this is a good place to begin if you are not already wrestling with this part of the Biblical narrative.

I can think of no better way for every Christian to join the celebration of one-hundred years of world mission advances since the Edinburgh World Conference of 1910, than by making this book your handbook. For the last one hundred years have also seen the greatest labors toward true ecumenism that the church has seen since the earliest councils. Yes, John, unity is vital to our future. Thank you for your journey and the gift it represents to the churches of the twenty-first century.

p.s. Happy birthday grandfather. It is a joy to remember your own life vision and faithfulness to the New Covenant in Christ’s blood.

In the new book, “Your Church is Too Small“, by my good friend John Armstrong (Zondervan), he speaks about as plain as one can about the oneness of the Church of Jesus Christ. You will never be able to find a clearer call to God’s mission on the earth and the place the Church has in it-in the past, present, and to the very end of time. Then he leaves the reader to consider the real cost for anyone that will accept this challenge; the real “Mission Impossible”.

” It will require us to surrender our small plans and embrace a bigger vision of the church, no matter what the size of our local congregation may be. Frankly, to do this, you must die. No one likes to think about dying, but there is no other way to pursue this vision.” (p.198)

Look for my full review of John’s book later this week. Read the foreword by J.I. Packer.

The Open Secret of the Unity Vision.

The last century witnessed a monumental effort on the part of Christian leaders to promote the vision of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. It grew out of , among other things, The Student Volunteer Movement which embraced the watchword, “The evangelization of the world in our generation”. This movement saw a vision of one mission incumbent on the whole Church of Jesus Christ and took serious and deliberate action to realize that vision. Their hearts were captive to a greater loyalty. The movement formally began in 1886 and according to at least one researcher, Michael Parker, had ended by 1926. (see The Kingdom of Character, American Society of Missiology, 1998).

The SVM movement

This movement is just one part of what led to the first World Conference on Christian missions at Edinburgh, 1910. Out of this conference developed the missionary thrust of the twentieth century and the ecumenical movement that became The World Council of Churches. Now thanks to the age of the internet, this same vision is entering not only a new millennium, but most definitely an important new chapter- one my friend John Armstrong calls, missional-ecumenism.

In his new book, “Your Church is Too Small“, an enormous amount of detail is made available for those that consider themselves loyal to the same vision and actively pray for and work at promoting this same vision for the whole church. Will it advance beyond what those of the twentieth century were able to take it? That will depend on the church in every place obediently becoming the church in both word and deed. The future of the church will certainly look different than the past two thousand years. But it cannot and must not forget what has gone before-certainly not the efforts, gains, and victories of the twentieth century both in terms of practicing her oneness and sacrificing herself for her mission to the world.

I cannot realistically hope that the churches will research the documents that I have over the last forty plus years. Missiology is a highly specialized discipline along with many others in the area of Christology and Ecclesiology. But with the age of the internet, ignorance of how the churches of the twentieth century saw the essence of their calling and how they went about fulfilling that calling must now be apart of any serious attempt to celebrate and promote the oneness of the world-wide church. The information is at our finger-tips for us to get up to speed on every part of the body of Christ. Just one of the beautiful things this means is that no part of the church is insignificant. In a whole new way every tradition within Christianity is reduced to a level playing field regardless of their size.

In my post tomorrow, I will introduce you to just one very important stream that we all surely need to know about. The Mennonite churches. So what about you? Are you content to just surf this web, or does it have something to do with what you have chosen to be loyal to; what you have given your heart to?

Listen to John’s introduction and see if you don’t hear this “Greater Loyalty”!

A Prayer – attributed to Sir Francis Drake, 1577.

” Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed to little, when we arrive safely because we sailed too close to the shore.

” Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim.

” Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes, and to push us into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.”

What a beautiful prayer for our Lenten journey. It is quoted by John Armstrong in his new book, “Your Church is Too Small“. In fact John uses it as the title of the final chapter. He says, ” that the prayer of this remarkable explorer makes a fitting conclusion”,  for the adventure he has taken the reader on.

He confides in us that he has “always had an insatiable desire to learn new things and discover new places. Perhaps this is why the greatest explorer of the Elizabethan Age, Sir Francis Drake (1500-1596), holds such a particular fascination for me”.

Knowing John Armstrong, I believe that his own exploration of the theme of Christian unity in the mission of Christ for the third millennium is going to continue. In his words, “There is more to learn and much more to obey. I feel like I have only just begun”.

I hope, along with some 100 fellow bloggers, to post a review of John’s book in March. I can’t think of a more fitting time for Zondervan to release this particular book. Not only will it await us as we complete Lent and celebrate afresh the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, but it converges on the 100 year anniversary of the first world-missions conference in Edinburgh, 1910, and the rising expectation that the Church has entered a new chapter of its existence.

For the e4Unity blog, you just can’t ask for much more than that.

Read a Catholic review (extensive).

More about John and his book.

What did Christ accomplish on that hill outside Jerusalem called Golgotha?

Forgiveness of sins. The Reign of God on earth. The Community of the New Covenant. The lifting of the ancient curse on the old creation and the bestowing of blessing on the New humanity in union with Christ.

My friend John Armstrong has had a growing vision that transcends our often limited and traditional understandings that we grow up with. It has to do with nothing less than the One, Holy, Apostolic Church; the new temple that God is even now constructing stone by living stone in this present evil age.

John shares his story and his journey which he has been on in his new book, “Your Church is too small“, to be released by Zondervan in April. Here is an audio sample that will give you an idea of what he is hoping to share with all of us.

Listen to “Your Church is too small”.

Let’s expand our vision this Lenten season of the grace of God bestowed as His very own provision for our lostness.

John Armstrong’s new book (Zondervan- March 2010)

Today’s Scripture Lesson: Psalm 37

A small, insignificant meeting in Madison County, Kentucky.

Sunday evening, a small group of us met together with a special guest, Dr.John H. Armstrong, President of ACT3 Ministries.( see previous post- Equipping Leaders for Unity). It was a very informal time of admittance into an intimate and personal audience with our guest who spoke to us about many experiences in the past as well as his forthcoming book. As if to highlight what we experienced, one of those present closed with a prayer of thanksgiving and intercession for this servant of God, after reading from this text of Holy Scripture:

8 “Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 10 For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.” (Zechariah 4)

John has written at least twelve books over the years; all about his three passions: Christ, Holy Scripture, and Christ’s Church. He has made significant contributions to the churches, advocating the celebration of unity and the relentless pursuit for greater understanding of Christians for traditions other than their own . 

John Armstrong's new book (Zondervan- March 2010)

John Armstrong's new book (Zondervan- March 2010)

 Among John’s greatest gifts to the church at large, are the books in which he served as the general editor:” The Compromised Church” (1998),”The Glory of Christ” (2002), “Understanding Four Views on Baptism” (2007), and “Understanding Four Views on The Lord’s Supper” (2007). In each of these books, John brings his own wealth of knowledge of the historical churches and their doctrines as the context for authors presenting particular views on key issues of the Christian Church. His introduction serves to set the purpose and focus of the dialogue and introduce the featured contributors. Then following the presentations, John has a concluding chapter, summarizing the theme and suggesting lessons for all to be edified. Then he adds a bibliography of resources for further study. I realize that not all Christians and even leaders are ready to benefit from such contributions, but some of us are indebted to John for greatly enhancing our understanding of the family of Christ in all of her diversity.
Sometimes, the greatest gems for me personally have come from the “appendix” where additional quotes are included. In his book on the Lord’s Supper, I am finding some real treasures. I conclude with one from Emil Brunner:
“Why did Jesus command the observation of this rite? He did not give his disciples any other similiar instructions about divine worship. Why this? Is it not sufficient to preach and believe his gospel, the gospel of his atoning death? Why this ceremony in our churches?
For a long time I asked myself this question. . .without finding the right answer, until the answer sprang to my mind form this text (I Corinthians 10:16-17): we must note the dual meaning of the phrase ‘body of Christ’. On the one hand it refers to the body broken for us on the cross of Golgotha; this is symbolized or figuratively expressed in the broken bread, just as the outpoured wine represents the blood of Christ outpoured for us on the cross. That is the usual interpretation which we are familiar with from our confirmation instruction. It is correct insofar as it goes, but it is incomplete. For the body of Christ means in the New Testament something else: the church. The latter is the body of Christ because Christians are incorporated into the eternal Christ by faith and the Holy Spirit. Thus our text says: ‘ We who are many, are one body’. There arises from us, who are a multiplicity of individuals, a unity, something whole and cohesive, kneeded together.”
Brunner goes on to say what I firmly believe is the missing function in most celebrations of the Lord’s Table: “What is effected through the common participation in the atoning death of Jesus Christ is the unity of the church. . . a miracle does take place in that those individuals who formerly were their own lord and master now are ruled by the one Lord, and to form a manifold of separate individuals, each living and caring for themselves, there arises a unity, one body, of which each believer is a member and Jesus Christ the Head, controlling and guiding all.”
Can anything be more central than this when we come together to eat the bread and drink the wine? Of course Jesus the Christ, the Head of the Body himself, is in our midst reminding us all that He is the New Humanity and we are participants by virtue of His work in us constituting the unity which He controls and directs-we are celebrating the fruit and travail of His sacrifice on the cross which is the Body of Christ. And we will faithfully do this until He returns with the future consumation and glorification of what is now still under construction.
Thank you John for taking the time to share yourself and your passions and vision with us. It truly will be a night to remember for all of us present. 

AN URGENT NEED!     John enjoying a baseball game w/ His brother

 

ACT3 President Coming To Madison County-

October 4th – 5:00-7:00pm

 (John,on the right, with his brother Thomas on opening day of the Marlins)

Dr.John H. Armstrong will be speaking at Trinity Church PCA, Richmond, to a unity celebration sponsored by E4Unity, Sunday at 5:00p.m. The web site of ACT3 ministries pretty well sums up John’s passion since 1991: “Equipping Leaders for Unity in Christ’s Mission”.

Since about 1998 John has been a personal friend and a great encouragement. Though I am a few years older, I have found in him a worthy model of what I am advocating and seeking to promote in the local area among all the churches. He will be with us to talk about his new book to be released by Zondervan in April, 2010. It is a book that he says is his own personal vision that God has been teaching him about the urgent need among American Christians. It is entitled, “Your Church is Too Small: Why unity in Christ’s Mission is vital to the future of the Church”. 

John has served the church in a number of ways for some thirty years and has authored books(twelve) that demonstrate his love for Christian churches of all the different traditions. In his sermons, lectures, and books and writing, John is focused on providing resources and counsel for Pastors and leaders. He is a capable Biblical scholar himself serving as an adjunct professor of evangelsim at the Wheaton College Graduate School.

If you are in the Lexington-Richmond area, we urge you to join us for this very profitable session regarding the church, her unity, and her mission.

For location of Trinity Church PCA  (here)

For an example of the resources ACT3 provides for the churches see the forthcoming Biblical Forum, a periodic gathering for serious Biblical theology, Oct.30,31, in the Chicago area. The theme will be, “Reading the Old Testament as Jesus Did”.

How the Gospel of the Kingdom Produces Missional Apologetics                                        johnarmstrong

April 6, 2009 newsletter
John H. Armstrong

The Bible is a book of truly big ideas. We often miss the really “big ideas” because we spend too much time on the lesser ones, often the ideas that we enjoy debating with other Christians. If we are to become missional apologists then this all has to change, sooner than later. I believe we must return to the one really big idea of the gospel of the kingdom.

But here is the problem-we assume that we all know the gospel. (I want to challenge this assumption as long as I live.) We think the gospel is simple (it is in one profound sense)-it is good news about getting our sins forgiven if we personally trust Jesus to save us. You know, “Invite Christ into your heart and get your sin problem solved so you can go to heaven when you die.” The problem, of course, is that this is not the gospel of the kingdom at all. . .

When Jesus began to teach in the synagogues, and heal the sick, he “proclaimed the good news of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23). The gospel means, in its simple essence, good news. The good news, in short form, is God’s provision of complete salvation through the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

When the writers of the four Gospels wanted to report that the gospel was being preached they said things like this: “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). Jesus even spoke of the necessity that was placed upon him to “proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:43).

Some have argued, falsely I believe, that this kingdom of God/good news connection is not found in the Fourth Gospel. (Some even once argued that the gospel of the kingdom was for the Jews, not for the rest of us. Thankfully this idea is almost totally dead.) But consider this about the Fourth Gospel-the most oft-quoted of all texts about new life in the gospel is found in John 3 where Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about his need for birth from above. Here our Lord says, “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born again” (John 3:3) and later “No one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5). The point here is obvious. Being born of God, and believing the good news, amounts to seeing and entering the kingdom of God. The new birth and the kingdom are intimately connected.

Though the Pauline epistles speak far more often of the gospel without this kingdom link, the same message is still found there. At least sixteen times Paul writes about “inheriting” or “living in” the kingdom through the good news of grace. And the writer of Hebrews, the second letter of Peter and James all refer to “the kingdom” as well. The Apocalypse even says that God “has made us to be a kingdom” (Revelation 5:10). Make no mistake about this-our loss of this emphasis on the gospel and the kingdom is not small. In fact, so far as I can tell, this might be the most important loss to the message of the good news in the modern era.

Social Gospel, Spiritual Gospel, or the “Gospel of the Kingdom

In the 19th century a great debate arose in the Christian church about the gospel. Some argued that what was missing in the era of great revivals, and the later post-Protestant developments in church history, was the social gospel. By this they had in mind the fact that the gospel spoke to things like justice, mercy and concern for the poor. Many evangelicals saw danger in this social emphasis and reacted. They defended the biblical truth that the gospel was about sin and forgiveness, about grace and personal salvation. The great tragedy was that this debate not only divided the church but it radically altered the way people heard and understood the most important message ever given to humankind.

What was the cause of this loss? I believe the answer lies in this question of understanding the nature of the gospel of the kingdom. When we pit personal forgiveness against the transforming power of the good news to change lives, through God-given repentance, we have missed the point. The gospel of grace changes us and changes everything around us. This is not a private message. It is a public declaration of what has been done in Jesus Christ. It is a message that announces to the whole world that God “through him [Christ] . . . reconciled to himself all things” (Colossians 1:20).

When we make the gospel exclusively about private forgiveness, without the call of God to share in reconciliation and transformation in the world, we invent a privatized message that does not transform people and cultures. This message has no connection to the kingdom, which is the actual context of all forgiveness and personal salvation. In avoiding the “works” paradigm many evangelicals have actually created a gospel that is detached from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We have lost the gospel of the kingdom.

When Simon the Sorcerer professed faith (we wonder if his faith was real in light of what follows in the story) Luke records that Philip had been proclaiming “the good news of the kingdom of God” (Acts 8:12). When people believed this same gospel they were baptized. Later in Acts we read that the gospel was preached in many cities and new disciples were told that they would have to go through many hardships “to enter the kingdom of God” (Act 14:22). But even more persuasive is the text in Acts 19:8. Here we read that Paul entered the synagogue in Ephesus and “spoke boldly for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.” Do you not see it? We would think this text should say that he argued about the gospel. But Luke has no hesitation at all in equating the proclamation of the good news with the reality of the kingdom of God itself.

An Authentic Kingdom Community

One can rightly deduce, from reading the whole of Scripture, that the church is not identical with the kingdom of God but the community that we call the church exists to serve that kingdom. The church expands the kingdom’s impact throughout the whole world. Simply put, the gospel-and thus the church-are always directly related to the kingdom. We have separated them and this has created nothing short of spiritual chaos.

People made in God’s image long for relationships. Having lost their relationship with God through sin they have lost all deeply satisfying relationships with their fellow human beings. All the unrest and social breakdown in the family and society is the result of this brokenness. But the gospel of the kingdom restores broken relationships, with both God and people.

Genuine loving relationships, in which trust and respect are central, are desired by all people. This is a part of that “God-shaped vacuum” we have heard about. And this is why the greatest apologetic of all is missional, or communal. People cannot function as they were made by God without relationships. This is why they gravitate to bars, civic clubs, college fraternities and sororities, sports teams, Gay Pride groups, Internet chat rooms and hundreds of other expressions of human community. And this is why the church fails to present the gospel of the kingdom effectively when it is ceases to be a unique community of people living eternal life in loving relationships.

The fullness of the kingdom of God must be preached and it must be demonstrated. This is not an either/or, but rather a both/and. The best apology that we can give to people today is to show them the implications of the kingdom of God at work in a healthy church. This is why the evil one attacks the church the way he does. He does not need to attack the world. The world already does what it does because they follow him. He attacks the church (cf. Ephesians 6, which refers to spiritual warfare in corporate ways, not private ones) because if the church fails to preach and live the gospel of the kingdom then there is no apologetic that can draw the world to the church.

Conclusion

The generation born since 1965 longs for community more than any I have ever encountered. I am not surprised by this given the impact of modernity and consumerism. I believe the answer to this is missional apologetics.

Put more simply, the answer is found in loving communities that are involved in the real lives of deeply broken people. The staple of kingdom/gospel ministry will always be intentional spiritual friendships. Let me put this as plainly as I know how:

No Christian should ever be without at least one intentional and significant relationship with a non-Christian.

Note, I did not say every Christian is an evangelist. Nor did I say that every Christian is to be a trained apologist. (A careful study of Colossians 4:2-6 will dispossess you of this faulty, but all too popular, notion.)

I have known several Christians who left other religions to become followers of Christ. One, a Muslim, told me time and again that the one factor that drew him to become a Christ follower was the love that he saw in Christians for one another. Several studies of the reasons why Muslims convert to Christ show the same thing. It is not our ability to convince them that Mohammed is a false teacher, or even that the Koran is dangerous, that ultimately wins them to Christ. It is their seeing us living in a love that they cannot and do not know.

The great early church theologian Tertullian said this so well: “It is the Christian’s way of life that shows the validity of his beliefs: goodness is their identifying characteristic” (cited by William Dyrness, Christian Apologetics in a World Community, 28).

(I usually don’t post excerps from others in such detail, but this was so good and fit in with my recent posts and conversation with some that I made an exception. John Armstrong is a very dear friend,Director of ACT3 ministries. He teaches a course in Missional Apologetics at the Billy Graham School of Evangelism at Wheaton College).E4Unity

To follow the Four Part Series-Here