Very good read, and good leads to reflections in context.
Here today we are a group of Christians asking about the Gospel in the context of many cultures and faiths. John Sentamu has already tackled some of the issues about the Gospel and cultures, and I will now address the topic of the Gospel among many faiths. The first thing to say is obvious: how deeply connected these two aspects of our context are and, for those who believe in God (which will include Jews, Christians, Muslims and many others), the most essential connection between them is that God created both and continues to be involved with both – and God does not have to be a respecter of our dualistic categories. A second point flows from my description of our world, and certainly this society in Britain, as complexly religious and secular: how the religions relate to secular forces and understandings is inseparable from how they relate to each other. And, stated crudely, there are three basic tendencies that a faith community can follow when faced either with religious or with secular others.
The first is, either defensively or aggressively, to define itself competitively over against others. This usually requires clear definition of boundaries, a well-delineated package of distinctive beliefs and practices and a suspicion of any interaction that might call in question or threaten this identity. At the other extreme is an openness that assimilates or capitulates to the other, having no definite identity to sustain. In between are a range of positions that try both to maintain a particular identity and also to engage peacefully across boundaries, and to discern in that engagement what is to be affirmed, what is to be rejected and what might be transformed through further engagement.
I take it that Fulcrum is a Christian group that for Christian reasons refuses either of the extremes but tries to engage with cultures and with other faiths in that mode of discerning engagement just described. That is what I would see as the mainstream orthodox Christian position over the centuries, beginning in its early centuries as it tried to work out its relationship to Judaism, to the other religions of the Roman Empire and beyond, and to the popular and highly sophisticated dimensions of Hellenistic and Roman civilisation. It is well summed up by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his Ethics where he sees it rooted in the reality of Jesus Christ, who in his incarnation radically affirms the goodness of creation, in his crucifixion radically judges the whole world, and in his resurrection radically transforms it. It is the simultaneity of those together that sets the core task in relation to others and indeed ourselves: what is to be affirmed, rejected and transformed? And why, when, where, by whom, with whom, and how? Above all there is the reality of the living Jesus Christ who is other to everyone, who does not stay within the boundaries we define, but often appears on both sides of them or transforms them, who is simply not completely assimilable to our categories, doctrines or cultures, who does not give his followers, immersed as we are in the complexities of history, an overview of reality or of other people and their relationships with him, and whose teaching about how people will ultimately be judged by God assures us of many surprises.
I love this resource site for preachers!
My favorite step for now … or it’s been a lifesaver for me.
4. Become Accountable.
“I don’t have to answer to no one.” — Have you ever heard someone proudly state that phrase? It may be true, you might only have to be accountable to yourself and no one else, but it may not be the best way to live, not necessarily. When you make yourself accountable to someone else, by telling them your goals and desires, they can keep on top of you and make sure you get things done. This will enable you to get to your goals more efficiently, raise your self-esteem, and create joy in your accomplishments.
Funny I was thinking about this the last couple of days.
Very practical stuff … I like the opening and closing quotes …
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford
“Never, never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill