The World We Evangelize

Robert E. Webber describes today’s world as “post-Christian” and challenges churches to understand the task of evangelism and discipleship within this context. Here’s how Webber illustrates the post-Christian world we live in: 1

In a recent Nightline town meeting with gay and lesbian teenagers, Ted Koppel asked, “What do you say when someone says to you, `The Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong’?” One teenager answered, “I really don’t care. Everything is relative; no one has a right to judge me.” Koppel responded by saying, “But the Bible does declare homosexuality to be wrong.” The teenager responded, “It’s right for me, so who are you or anyone else to judge me?” Koppel shot back, “Now you’re judging me. Who gives you the right to do that?” The conversation ended right there.

In today’s world when everything is relative, the only truth that anyone has is the truth he has for himself. There is no universal truth. Consequently, one may say, “The teenager is right. Koppel is right.” What’s right does not derive from any universal objective standard. What’s right is only what’s right for me.

In this way, truth has been reduced to privatism. Privatism teaches: “I have my truth; you have your truth; let’s not bother each other with conflicting views. Please don’t bother me with your truth even if you think you have reason to believe it.”

Systems of truth that people once believed are now regarded as little more than social constructs created by people to control others. The prevailing opinion is that these constructs need to be deconstructed, abolished, and put behind us. The popular view is this: “The only thing that matters in the world is me. I am at the center of my own universe, and I determine my own existence, my own future.”

While this mood of self-focused attention is dominant within our world, there are other cultural factors that make this a “post-everything” world. These factors include:

· increased technology, especially the Internet system

·the complexity of knowledge brought about by the information age and the accessibility of knowledge through computer retrieval systems

· the globalization of the world and the communication systems that provide us with instant knowledge of people and events

· the war on terrorism and the accompanying vulnerability and fear of the future

· the deterioration of our cities and the hopelessness resulting from the lack of meaningful work

· the prevalence of drugs and the power it has on the young

· the breakdown of the family and the moral permissiveness that is everywhere

These issues and others have affected every geographical area and every people group whether rich or poor, whether Caucasian, African­-American, Asian, Hispanic, Indian, or Slavic. In today’s world, while some may be more isolated than others, none escape the influences of the new culture and world.

What are your thoughts on the context – a post-Christian culture – as the first step towards evangelism strategy?

1 Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Evangelism (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003), pp. 123-25.

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