An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Living at the Crossroads Conference

Dave Beldman, Jon Swales, Jon Taylor and Lee Barnes are to be congratulated for organising this excellent conference. I hope it will be the first of many to come. Trinity College is a superb place for a conference and as Richard Russll commented it even has parking!

Mike Gohen kicked the conference off with a look at Gospel, Mission and Worldview. He noted that the term worldview wasn't used 100 years ago and despite the fact it has many pagan significances it has been well incoporated in the Christian vocabulary. He looked at some of the reasons for this. The Gospel is public truth and yet many evangelicals have viewed the gospel as doctrines and ideas and not as an event - the kingdom of God being accomplished. The gospel isn't like a play a world we inhabit for a few hours and then leave to go into the real world; the gospel is the real world. Everything has to fit in with the story of the gospel. If the gospel is true (and it is) then we need to ask, how will it be communicated to all people. Mission comes with the gospel. Jesus didn't write a book he formed a community and entrusted to them the message. Our call is to live in this story and make it known. Mission is not another thing to do, it is who we are. The church is a picture and a preview of the kingdom. We are not sent to do evangelism but to show that Christ is lord of all. We need to ask what would science and art look like on the new earth? This all comes under the mission of God's people.

One problem is that the gosple has become compromised by the idols of western culture. Can worldview help in this liberation? The origin of worldview is in German idealism, but it was taken on board by James Orr and Abraham Kuyper. Both of them had a deep need to protect Christianity form the hostile worldview of modernism and they saw that worldview could help this. Orr was concerned with defending Christian theology, but Kuyper was concerend with the cultural and public life all of life was to be lived under the lordship of Christ.

The issue is can worldview provide a tool to get our understanding of the gospel straight and to get our understanding of mission straight? If it can great, if not then we need to find other ways.

The second session Mark Roques help us to think about mission , stories and subversive questions. In his own inimitable way Mark helped us to think about the ways in which Christians are mugged. Many 'celebrities', including Ricky Gervais, Jonathan Edwards and Derren Brown had a Christian background and now have had their faith taken in a mugging. Materialsim is an effective mugger. We need to understand these worldviews that are attempting to mug Christians and once we have understood them we need to subvert them. One way is to ask subversive questions. Questions such as: Boffins think that we are no batter than bacteria, what do you think?' or "Boffins think that Hilter wasn't evil, what do you think?'. Mark's list of questions to ask an atheist is here. By tellings tories and asking questions we can get people thinking in a way that is not embarrasing.

Lunch was followed by two parallel sessions. The first was a choice between worldview and church planting by New Frontiers pastor Simon Walker and worldviews and youth culture by Frontier Trust's Dave Wiles. The session on worldview and church planting was focused on church planting rather than worldviews. Simon was 'mugged' in the session - in the best possible way - and he was only able to get part way through his notes, most of the time was devoted to questions and observations.

The second set of seminars was a choice between Rocky on stories and Trinity College's Andrew Goddard on sexual ethics. Here in small groups we were challenged to think of the secular worldviews that lie behind sexual ethics and then to look at how sexual ethics could be viewed through creation, fall and redemption.

Mike Goheen's second session asked the question Why worldview is important for the local congregation?'. And here is the rub. Worldview has become popular in Christian academia, but what about the local congregation. Goheen is perhaps unique in that he is both a pastor and church planter and an academic. He is well placed to speak to this issue. He looked at comments and needs of some trypical Christian in a local congregation. How does worldview affect them? The key question every pastor needs to ask and address is: How can I equip congregations for their callings? Where are the resources to enable pastors to do this? Goheen uses two toolboxes: worldview tradition (Abrahm Kuyper) and missiology (in particular Lesslie Newbigin). Both share a commitment to the scope of the gospel and to the church's mission. The kuyperian traition is wider, but the missionary tradition is a whole lot deeper. Newbigin nce said of the kuyperian tradition in the UK that is was unknown but it needed to be a powerful voice. We need these resurces to see the biblical story as public truth, to be able to analyse culture and to be the dynamic of being in the world.

There is a need for a theological education that equips leaders and a need for pastors to understand worldview isssues.

The final session was a Q&A, which unfortunately had to be curtailed due to time constraints.

Check out the conference blog as mp3s of the main session may appear shortly.


Paul said...

Thanks for the report.

dave b said...

great report,'s all coming back to me! I've been sending people here to come and read it!

Anonymous said...

Its a great shame that you've given space to Mark Roques critique of the atheist position collapsed into 'social darwinism' which is a straw man. Many atheists are seeking ways to narritise high values and ethics as transparently humanly chosen. Meanwhile your commitment to the 'creation, fall & redemption' ideology of Christian reformational thought needs needs to be owned as an 'a priori' commitment and its greek/gnostic influences acknowledged. Otherwise you are I think in danger of opening yourselves to ridicule.