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God desires that ALL people would accept God's love and salvation through Jesus Christ. God has compelled me to share information with the world relating to the biblical seven year tribulation in order to share Truth in a deceived world.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:1-5)

Jesus answered, "I AM the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Theology, Research ... - Communion in Crisis: the Way Forward for Evangelicals (I)

I suppose that one way of answering this is to ask whether Christianity itself has a future in countries like New Zealand. Cullum Brown's book, The Death of Christian Britain, suggests that the marked decline of the mainstream churches in the UK has now reached the point where Christianity will cease to be a significant presence in those islands. Some forecast that only 1% of Britons will go to church by 2016. The situation in the UK parallels that in France and other European countries, in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Church going is in serious decline, and those who go to church are elderly. In New Zealand, according to the 2001 census as many as 26% of respondents claimed no religion, while a further 17.2% did not specify, making a total of 43.2%. The corresponding figures in Australia were 15.3% and 12.7%. It looks very much as though the triumph of secularism, predicted by the sociologists in the 1960s, has come to pass.

And yet, that judgement appears far too simplistic. Dr Kevin Ward of Knox College Dunedin has given us a learned account of the real situation in his inaugural lecture entitled, 'Is New Zealand's Future Churchless??' In this interesting paper, Dr Ward makes the point that the census reply 'no religion' really means 'not connected to a Church' and that in fact many of the people who would answer in this way or by not specifying, would profess to be committed to spirituality rather than religion.

The picture that emerges is of a religious society, but not a Christian one. Christianity is faced with two major problems in the drift from organised religion.

The first is that Christianity is in essence a revealed faith, not what you may call a natural one. Human beings are, if you like, naturally religious, naturally spiritual. But they are not naturally Christian. For the Christian faith to be sustained, it needs to be transmitted intentionally and adopted intentionally. The favoured ideas of much contemporary Christianity such as inclusiveness and tolerance will not hold and transmit the faith. We need to recognise its contours and its limits; we need to teach it; we need to know what the Bible says; we need to have some rudimentary account of Christian doctrine. Spirituality in what has been a Christian community will begin with Christian notions, such as the importance of Jesus, that God is personal, that there is an afterlife. But as time passes these notions will disconnect more and more from the original corpus of Christianity and a new and different religion will emerge.

That is, in some ways it will be different. I predict, however, that in other ways it will simply be the coming again of the old religious notions of paganism. There are only a certain number of ways of thinking about the world, our relationship to it and the spiritual forces which may or may not run it. Our natural ways of being religious will be revived; there will be a supermarket of beliefs; each individual will be responsible for his or her faith; truth will hardly matter. According to Professor Peter Jones, who has written extensively about these developments, we will resume our natural monistic view of the world in which all is spirit and in which there is not and cannot be a transcendent Creator.

The second problem for us is that there is no such thing as a churchless Christianity. We may suggest, for example, that the way forward for Christianity is simply to embrace the new interest in spirituality, to accept that it is going to be individualistic, to encourage people to create a faith which best suits them, and not to insist that such a faith includes the church.

As I have already said, however, Christianity is a revealed faith; we do not take it on our own terms but on its own terms. There are distinct limits to what is Christian and what is not. In Christianity, God is committed to truth and hence to the repudiation of error. We have never believed that Unitarianism or Arianism were compatible with Christianity. And without doubt it is a faith which as from its inception bound believers together and insisted that they minister to one another as members of what the New Testament calls, 'the Body of Christ'. In short Christianity cannot survive without 'church'.

VirtueOnline - News - Theology, Research ... - Communion in Crisis: the Way Forward for Evangelicals (I) - by Peter Jensen

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