Thursday, November 25, 2004

trafficking the grace and mere ideas

I had an interesting conversation with a chaplain of an AIDS/HIV hospice about evangelism, it kind of connected with some reading that I have been doing recently.

"For Christians, therefore, our thinking and practice of transforming development must have an evangelistic intent, although this needs to be understood with some care. This is not a call for proselytism; neither is it a call to coercive, manipulative, or culturally insensitive evangelism. It is not even a call for all development practitioners to become evangelists. After all, no one knows the moment when someone is ready for faith, nor is God limited to the staff of a particular Christian development agency in bringing God's good news. Rather, it is a call to be sure we do our development with an attitude that prays and yearns for people to know Jesus Christ." (pp 205)

"Questions are asked by the people when they witness something they do not expect or understand. The initiative lies with them. This avoids Tillich's complaint that "it is wrong to throw answers, like stones, at the heads of those who haven't even asked a question." (pp 210)

Myers, B.L. (1999 ) Walking with the Poor - Principles and Practices of Transformational Development. Orbis

"The Christian has neither right nor power to force salvation on people. Every attempt to impose the gospel by force, to run after people and to proselytise them, to use our own resources to arrange the salvation of other people is both futile and dangerous....our easy trafficking with the word of cheap grace simply bores the world to disgust so that in the end it turns against those who try to force on it what it does not want." (pp 165)

"To try and force the word on the world by hook or by crook is to make the living word of God into a mere idea, and the world would be perfectly justified in refusing to listen to an idea for which it has no use" (pp 166)

Bonhoeffer, D. (1937) The Cost of Discipleship. SCM

Personally I'm uncomfortable with cheap grace; I'm uncomfortable trafficking the gospel; I'm uncomfortable mere ideas!

The sad thing is that the evangelical chaplain of the AIDS/HIV hospice with sadness in his voice finished his conversation with me by saying there were no churches that he worked with that he could recommend to those he came in contact with. What an indictment - churches with too much cheap grace, too busy trafficking the gospel caught up with mere ideas.

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