Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Evangelism After Christendom

This is the book that got me blogging again. I'm probably going to do two or three posts on it. Not so much reviews as appetite-whetters. I hope. Here's the first.

I knew this was going to be one of those books that would do it for me. I got through it really quickly even though I kept re-reading bits just to make sure I’d got it right. My wife also knew it was going to be one of those books. She was doing her own reading but I kept on interrupting her saying, “This is great; this bloke knows how to write.” She’s very patient my wife.

Here's why Evangelism After Christendom does it for me
• It echoes much that I have felt and said for a while now. For instance: we need to re-imagine evangelism because it has become a dirty word, not only for those beyond the church but also for those within; we need to question the dominant strategy of translating our message into terms that will appeal to the world, paying more attention instead to cultivating the practice of hospitality so as to create space for people to learn the language of the gospel; the gospel is not primarily a product to be sold.
• It says what I would have loved to have said but with an insight, clarity and authority of which I am incapable. It is full of elegant, well turned phrases. There are passages on virtually every page that I want to read out loud to people.
• It takes evangelism seriously, practically seriously and - all too rare this - theologically seriously.
• It avoids the classic modernist accommodation of both evangelicalism and liberalism.
• It resonates with much that I have found helpful in the writings of Walter Brueggemann and others who have been influenced by postliberalism and radical orthodoxy
• It takes church seriously at a time when many serious disciples are so frustrated with the church that they are tempted to abandon it.
• When I put the book down my overwhelming feeling was not that I had learned some helpful stuff but rather that I had been challenged to live a holier life. Not so much “Do I know how to evangelise?” as “Am I really prepared to try and live like Christian?”

7 comments:

Stephen said...

After you recommended this book to me I looked it up and realised that I knew the name. I know Bryan because I used to study at Boston University School of Theology.

I never took his evangelism class (something I'm regretting now) because it wasn't really my interest at the time, so I've never been taught by him, but I have had a pint with him, and he's a bloody nice bloke.

Glen Marshall said...

I'm impressed - I didn't even know you'd been to America.

I'll be interested to see what you make of the book. I imagine it will appeal to the postmodern in you but I guess you might struggle as a Unitarian. It if very postliberal and of a stripe the emphasises the importance of a specifically Xn tradition.

Let me know how you get on.

Phil B said...

I know you've probably mentioned this before but what's post-liberalism?

Is this another "ism" for the orthodox Reformed to start attacking? Surely arminianism and liberalism are enough?

;-)

Does his book mention preaching?

tim f said...

I'm a post-postist.

Glen Marshall said...

Phil

Try here for a decent intro.

http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=2116

Not much at all on preaching.

Phil B said...

Thanks, Glen. It looks very interesting.

If not preaching, is there at least some talk of "proclamation"?

"we need to question the dominant strategy of translating our message into terms that will appeal to the world" I like the sound of this...

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