DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Radical Pursuit

Written by: on July 4, 2019

We live in a world where there is an increase revision of Christianity which allows people to create “their own versions of what Christianity means, abandoning the nuances of traditional theology in favor of religions that stroke their egos and indulge or even celebrate their worst impulses.”[1] However, as Christian leaders, we are commissioned to embark on a pursuit to bring about change in our local context without comprising the gospel of truth, and truth is radical.

To abide completely by the truth in every situation in… is incredibly difficult. It requires

both the heart of a saint and the diplomacy of an experienced ambassador…Many situations emerge each week in which we are tempted to ignore the truth, or bend it, stretch it, or massage it, out of political correctness, a desire to be liked, expediency, or convenience. But Jesus didn’t have a casual relationship with truth, and that is radical. He was interested in getting to the root of things. Through this lens of truth Jesus places everything in its proper place, bringing order to every aspect of life, and demonstrates the true value of things. [2]

 

Jesus was radical not only in his character but also in his deeds. According to” two hard historical facts Jesus: (1) He was a Jew from Nazareth who led a popular Jewish movement in Palestine at the beginning of the first century, and (2) Rome crucified him for doing so”.[3]

Today however, “the Jesus of the New Testament, whose paradoxical mix of qualities and commandments presents a challenge to every ideology and faction, has been replaced in the hearts and minds of many Americans with a more congenial figure—a “choose your own Jesus” who better fits their own preconceptions about what a savior should and shouldn’t be.” [4]

It is time to effectively change the narrative back to its intended purpose of redemption, the most effective way of doing that is through contextual theology. For contextual theology intertwines truth and culture together in a complicated tapestry of life. For “God chose to locate truth within culture, therefore God always invites us to hold our beliefs while aware of that truth”.[5]

All theology is some kind of attempt to confer intelligibility on God’s ways with the world. So the study of that same world is part and parcel of what it means to be a contextual theologian. So, contextual theology, and for that matter “grounded” ecclesiology (i.e., the study of the “real” church as it is encountered, rather than “ideal” constructions of its reality), is an enterprise undertaken in a very particular kind of way—it is done dialogically with faith and tradition in mutual intercourse with the world as it is encountered in the present.[6]

Contextual theology tends “to be sympathetic and syncretic to applying their knowledge and insights to particular situations; to stress that Christianity will have behavioral, social, ethical, and political implications;  is inherently receptive to contemporary culture, science, and the arts. It is concerned with freedom, is first and foremost concerned with pursuing wisdom and the truth wherever it is to be found. It shuns barriers that create neat doctrinal categories, and will usually immerse itself in the messy contingencies and miscibility of lived faith, rather than “ideal” theological constructions of reality and is in dialogue with experience, reason, culture, and broader histories.”[7]

With this knowledge in hand, we can incorporate it into our daily life and ministry. Christians are to engage the culture for the cause of Christ, not run from it because people are worldly. Paul explained that he did not call us to “leave the world” (1 Corinthians 5:10) but rather to “become all things to all men” so as to engage them with the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:22).[8]

Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, forgave the adulterous woman, corrected the Pharisees, grow leaders, fellowshipped will the Gentiles and became the atonement of our sins providing salvation, reconciliation, and redemption.

The Bible suggests the life Christians be one that is radical in truth and for change spiritually, emotionally, physically, and at times, politically. They are called to be the light of the world, but they must also engage in that world. They are to represent the truth and the light; a reflection of God to a world that may not know him. They are to be the father to the fatherless and the defender of the widow. They are to bring the good news to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to deliver liberty to the captive, and to open the prison of those who are bound.[9] They are to be the heart, hands, and feet of God proclaiming His Love and correction. They are not called to water down religion but to allow God to direct them in engage without compromise. They are called to become Radical in Christ and radical for change in the lives of all people.

 

[1] Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (New York: Free Press, 2012), 328.

[2] Jesus Was A Radical – Dynamic Catholic, https://dynamiccatholic.com/rediscover-jesus-program/reflections/jesus-was-a-rad (accessed June 8, 2019)

[3] Reza Aslan, ZEALOT: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (New York: Random House, 2013), 68.

[4] Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (New York: Free Press, 2012), 5.

[5] Ian S. Markham and Joshua Daniel, Reasonable Radical: Reading the Writings of Martyn Percy (Eugene: PickwickPublications, 2018), 238, Amazon Kindle

[6] Ibid. 1803

[7] Ibid. 1808-1821

[8] 3 Ways Christians Will Address Cultural Issues In The Comi .., https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/february/3-ways-christians-will (accessed June 7, 2019).

[9] Isiah 61:1-2

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Shermika Harvey

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