Gospel, Story, Worldview, and the Mission of the Church Michael Goheen Vancouver, B.C

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  • Slide 1
  • Gospel, Story, Worldview, and the Mission of the Church Michael Goheen Vancouver, B.C.
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  • Good news of the kingdom The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news! Mark 1.15
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  • Headline news! God is acting in love and power in Jesus by the Spirit to restore the whole creation and all of human life to again live under His gracious rule.
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  • Five observations on the gospel It is the power of God unto salvation It is the restoration of good world It is comprehensive in scope It is the climactic moment of long story of universal history Churchs mission is the historical logic of the gospel
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  • Comprehensive gospel, comprehensive mission If the gospel is comprehensive in scope, then the churchs mission is as wide as creation!
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  • Not one square inch! There is not one square inch of the entire domain of human life of which Christ, the rightful Lord over all, does not proclaim: This is Mine! (Abraham Kuyper)
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  • Our World Belongs to God: Comprehensive mission of church The Spirit thrusts Gods people into worldwide mission. He impels young and old, men and women, to go next door and far away into science and art, media and marketplace with the good news of Gods grace.... (32) Following the apostles, the church is sent sent with the gospel of the kingdom... In a world estranged from God, where millions face confusing choices, this mission is central to our being... (44) The rule of Jesus Christ covers the whole world. To follow this Lord is to serve him everywhere, without fitting in, as light in the darkness, as salt in a spoiling world. (45)
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  • Fox and the Crow A fox compliments a crow: My you have a lovely voice; wont you sing me a song? What is the meaning of this event?
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  • Fox and the Crow The crow sits perched high in a tree with a piece of meat. There is a famine in the forest and all the animals use different strategies in an attempt to get the meat. The fox compliments the crow. It opens its mouth; the meat falls out and the fox runs away with it. Dont be deceived by flattery!
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  • Human Life Shaped by Story The way we understand human life depends on what conception we have of the human story. What is the real story of which my life story is part? (Newbigin) ... a story... is... the best way of talking about the way the world actually is. (Wright)
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  • Bible tells story of world ... the whole point of Christianity is that it offers a story which is the story of the whole world. It is public truth (Wright)
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  • Biblical Story as Six Act Drama ACT ONE God Creates His Kingdom: Creation ACT TWO Rebellion in the Kingdom: Fall ACT THREE The King Chooses Israel: Redemption Initiated ACT FOUR The Coming of the King: Redemption Accomplished ACT FIVE Spreading the News of the King: The Mission of the Church ACT SIX The Return of the King: Redemption Completed
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  • Hindus Comment I cant understand why you missionaries present the Bible to us in India as a book of religion. It is not a book of religionand anyway we have plenty of books of religion in India. We dont need any more! I find in your Bible a unique interpretation of universal history, the history of the whole of creation and the history of the human race. And therefore a unique interpretation of the human person as a responsible actor in history. That is unique. There is nothing else in the whole religious literature of the world to put alongside it (Badrinath).
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  • Bible as universal history Normative: True Universal: True for all people Comprehensive: Give meaning to all of human life
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  • Clash of stories In our contemporary culture... two quite different stories are told. One is the story of evolution, of the development of the species through the survival of the strong, and the story of the rise of civilization, our type of civilization, and its success in giving humankind mastery of nature. The other story is the one embodied in the Bible, the story of creation and fall, of Gods election of a people to be the bearers of his purpose for humankind, and of the coming of the one in whom that purpose is to be fulfilled. These are two different and incompatible stories (Newbigin).
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  • Missionary Encounter Normal position of church in cultural context if church is faithful Clash of ultimate and comprehensive stories Requires church that believes gospel and is committed to shaping whole life by it Recognises much good in every culture that is to be embraced and embodied Opposes and rejects idolatrous story Offers credible alternative Call for conversion Encounter takes place in every sphere of life
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  • Claimed and counterclaimed There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan. (CS Lewis)
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  • Self-Chosen Name: Ekklesia (public assembly) Contrast with names given by enemies Private religious communities offered private salvation Received protection from Roman law Refused these designations Ekklesia: Launched into public life of empire to challenge competing allegiances
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  • Church as Public Assembly Such private religion flourished as vigorously in the world of the Eastern, Mediterranean as it does in North America today. It was permitted by the imperial authorities for the same reason that its counterparts are permitted today: it did not challenge the political order. Why, then, did the church refuse this protection? Why did it have to engage in a battle to the death with the imperial powers? Because, true to its roots in the Old Testament, it could not accept relegation to a private sphere of purely inward and personal religion. It knew itself to be the bearer of the promise of the reign of Yahweh over all nations (Lesslie Newbigin).
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  • Conversion of West at the Enlightenment
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  • Narrowing of Salvation The early Christian belief [i.e.,Scriptural belief] that the Fall and Redemption pertained not just to man, but to the entire cosmos, a doctrine already fading after the Reformation, now [under secularism of 19th c.] disappeared altogether: the process of salvation, if it had any meaning at all, pertained solely to the personal relation between God and man (Richard Tarnas).
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  • Narrowing of Salvation Ever since the Enlightenment, western culture has found it difficult to articulate a clear and compelling vision of Gods relationship to the world. In reaction to the Enlightenment, the theological stream of pietism has tended to confine the presence and action of God to the interior subjectivities of the individual believers: You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart!... Since we find ourselves in a scientific, rationalistic, technologically driven society that leaves little room for God, it is simpler and more accessible to shift the focus to human experience instead (James Brownson et al.)
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  • Fact-Value Dichotomy
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  • Rise of term worldview Arose in German philosophy (weltanschauung) Introduced into North America by James Orr and Abraham Kuyper Made popular by Carl F.H. Henry, Francis Schaeffer, Al Wolters, Brian Walsh and Richard Middleton, James Sire, Arthur Holmes, and others
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  • Need for Worldview No one, I think, whose eyes are open to the signs of the times, can fail to perceive that if Christianity is to be effectually defended from the attacks made upon it, it is the comprehensive method that is rapidly becoming the more urgent. The opposition which Christianity has to encounter is no longer confined to special doctrines... but extends to the whole manner of conceiving the world.... It is no longer an opposition of detail, but of principle. The circumstance necessitates an equal extension of the line of defence. It is the Christian view of things in general which is attacked, and it is by an exposition and vindication of the Christian view of things as a whole that the attack can most successfully be met (James Orr).
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  • Need for Worldview If the battle is to be fought with honour and with a hope of victory, then principle must be arrayed against principle; then it must be felt that in Modernism the vast energy of an all-embracing life system assails us, then also it must be understood that we have to take our stand in a life system of equally comprehensive and far-reaching power. (Abraham Kuyper).
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  • Agreement between Orr and Kuyper Christianity has a unified, and coherent worldview derived from a central belief Modern worldview is a unified system that also derives from central belief, is fundamentally religious, is embodied in forms of life and activity, and is antithetical to Christianity Christianitys only defence against the power of comprehensive modern worldview is to develop an equally comprehensive worldview. This worldview has bearing not only on the religious (theological, ecclesiological) sphere but on the whole of cultural life.
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  • Worldview mediates gospel to public life
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