|Relevance - saturday 2003-04-05 1940||last modified 2006-01-28 1843|
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Christianity Today recently published an article on the way my generation connects with the rest of culture called Christian Esperanto, Esperanto being a planned, constructed language. The author posits that we, the so-called second generation Christians, have been raised with the vocabulary of the church, and we have only that limited set of concepts to use to speak with the rest of the world. It's ever so visible even in the literal words themselves - charis (grace) and agape (love) were invented by their Biblical authors for describing the concepts we fight so hard to define now, and ironically we often settle for those same constructed Greek words. The church does not have its own culture, and it shouldn't. As an institution, its intent is to be cross cultural.
As the author points out, what will the rest of the world hear when we try to explain the love of God in words and concepts only other "Christian Esperantists" understand? The church of today, at least in America, seems to float behind popular culture, something Francis Schaeffer calls "the line of despair" in The God Who Is There, and this cultural estrangement which is becoming so visible in our generation will only increase the gap.
There are people thinking about and attacking the question though. I ran across Relevant (a zine), Regeneration Quarterly, The Veritas Forum (universities and the pursuit of truth), and The Vine, not to mention the way the Cambridge Vineyard operates.
I ponder my own relevance often. I can get absorbed in ivory tower types of Christian literature with no problem, but it increasingly seems like being obsessed over the mysteries of the engine while forgetting that it's supposed to drive the rubber meeting the road. Do the people who don't yet know the excitement of knowing God know at least that I'm trying to say I love them? Or am I still speaking the wrong language?
So as not to end too pessimistically, I have had some thoughts on the relevance of Christians and the church. First and foremost, the message of Christ never changes - love is always relevant to people. Especially the love of God. Second, storytelling seems paramount. Our culture loves the movies, the television, the drama of stars' lives, the evening news -- we like a well told, well presented story. I don't know where that train of thought is going though. I'll get back to you on it.
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