Saturday, June 07, 2008

By the Renewing of Your Minds

A while ago I had a conversation with a few friends about whether evangelism should hold the primary place in Christian mission. To my friends jeers I played the outspoken contrarian by maintaining that evangelism (Gospel proclamation) should hold a primary place in Christian mission.

My argument was that it is specifically the Gospel that transforms hearts and provides a narrative identity (worldview) for action. I was basically holding to a hierarchy within Christian mission, caring for creation, justice ministries need to be done with and alongside evangelism but we should not expect creation care and justice ministries to develop strong roots unless they are preceded by renewed hearts (Rom. 12:2). It is the Christian identity of Philemon that allows Paul to exhort him to call his former slave Onesimus a brother. Perhaps I'm a bit of a sluggard but it seems that true orthopraxy flows from orthodoxy. I realize this isn't popular especially with some aspects of liberation theology, but, alas, it seems biblical. Again, justice and creation care are inextricably bound to evangelism (Luke 4) but it seems that the biblical witness demonstrates their instability apart from the redeemed person. It was because of the Gospel that Philemon welcomed Onesimus as a brother; it was because of Gospel proclamation that Onesimus became a bishop and a martyr of the early church.

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