Christian Faithfulness in a Changing Culture: Theology Conference

Greg Strand – February 6, 2014 Leave a comment

Our EFCA Theology Conference on the theme “Christian Faithfulness in a Changing Culture” was excellent. Here is how the Conference theme was introduced along with some of the key issues of theology that are being affected today.

For some time it has been intellectually acknowledged that we live in a postmodern, post-Christian day. However, with current tsunami-like moral and cultural sea-changes, many are beginning to feel and experience palpably implications previously known only abstractly or experienced vicariously.

These tectonic shifts require a different way of thinking, engaging, and speaking, without compromising the Word of God or Christian faithfulness. We need to discern how best to do this with faithfulness and fruitfulness, by God’s grace, for the good of His people and for His glory. This is the focus, the goal and the prayer of this Conference.

All of us know and experience the cultural changes that are taking place in an incredibly fast manner. How many would have thought at last year’s Theology Conference on “The Theology of Human Sexuality” that we would one year later see the number of states that have laws allowing same-sex marriage? These cultural changes have implications on changing cultural mores which influences and affects and changes laws, which we are experiencing. Rather than list what all of us could recite, here are some of the thoughts that the theme of this conference raises.

  • Bible: there are significant questions pertaining to the inerrancy of the Bible, and to hermeneutics, both critical issues for us who affirm the ultimate authority of the Word of God.
  • Church: what it means for the church to be missional, in the sense that its primary nature is missional, by virtue of its very being (1 Pet. 2:9-10). Does the church have a mission or is it missional, and what is it.
  • Kingdom: this is a significant debate with numerous questions about what the kingdom means and how it is ushered in and its relation to the church, and how Christians ought to engage in culture and what Christians can expect of culture, and how and if Christians are to transform culture, among many other related matters.
  • Church History: we are today more like the early church than we have been since the days of the Edict of Milan in February 313 when Constantine made law the religious toleration for Christianity within the Roman Empire.
  • Culture: though Christian fumes remain, and though we were never a Christian nation, we were a nation that was strongly influenced by Christian principles. But that has and continues to change drastically and rapidly, and the “intolerance of tolerance” is one of the key marks of this culture. During these changes, the twin temptations are to move in an accommodationist (liberal) or a separatist direction.
  • Contextual Theology: this is driving a lot of theologizing that is being done today, which often results in the culture being the lens through which the biblical text is interpreted rather than the other way around, which leads to biblical revisionism and liberal theology.
  • Moral Matters, Legal Changes: the moral boundaries are becoming blurred and obliterated, and when the sentiments of the vox populii shift, it has implications on law.
  • Social Strains: the animosity between political groups, religious groups, theological groups, racial groups, and many others, is getting more challenging and the rhetoric is becoming more heated.
  • Religious Freedom: this is narrowing more and more, and the focus is on freedom of worship and freedom from religion, not freedom of religion, and this has profound implications on Christians living in the world but not being of the world. Intolerance of truth
  • Persecution: Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world, and though it includes death in some Islamic countries, it also refers to other kinds and forms of persecution. But rather than engage in a victim mentality, which Evangelicals are prone to do, we must know that this is the precise manner and context in which the gospel transforms, seasons with salt, illumines with light, etc.

In sum, we need to figure out how to live the Christian life with faithfulness in a post-Christian day.

Do you agree with this assessment? Do you see a similar challenge to these key issues? What would you add to the list? Have you figured out how to live the Christian life with faithfulness in this post-Christian day?

Tomorrow I will include a link to all the resources from the Conference.

Greg Strand

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Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

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