On my week “off,” I had the pleasure of reading, among other books, The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World edited by Justin Taylor and John Piper (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007). This is a great read, especially if you need a general introduction to the challenge of proclaiming the gospel to the culture in which we find ourselves. The book is a collection of essays from the 2006 conference in Minneapolis. The contributors include D.A. Carson, Mark Driscoll, David Wells, Voddie Baucham, John Piper, and Tim Keller. While none of these chapters will let you down, I especially liked the chapters by Wells and Keller, though Baucham’s ended with an outstanding bang as well. Also, there is a q/a appendix; Taylor asks the contributors questions to expand a bit on their chapters.
For now, I’ll post a few sentences of Wells’ chapter. His chapter has the same title of the book. He basically points out several main realities of the broader American culture from a religious point of view: the postmodern “self” as center along with huge spiritual diversity dotting the American landscape. In other words, the postmodern self is king, and hundreds of new religions and spiritualities are prevalent in the US.
“This means that the relation of Christ to non-Christian religions, as well as those personally constructed spiritualities, is no longer a matter of theorizing from a safe distance but rather a matter of daily encounter in neighborhoods, in schools, at work, at the gas station, and at the supermarket. And what will prove to be even more momentous in the evangelical world than its engagement with the other religions, I believe, will be whether it is able to distinguish what it has to offer from the emergence of these forms of spirituality. Therapeutic spiritualities that are non-religious begin to look quite like evangelical spirituality that is therapeutic and non-doctrinal” (p. 23).
He says elsewhere that the spiritual climate in the US is that of ascent: climbing, climbing, climbing, while going further inside the self for fulfillment and meaning (Mike Horton would agree with Wells!). Christianity is just the opposite: we’re running, God descends, finds us, and brings us out of ourselves to the Savior. Nicely, Wells even mentions the eschatological bent of Christianity which gives deep meaning to life in a “meaningless” culture (p. 46-8).
I could quote quite a few more excellent such paragraphs. Suffice it to say that this essay is a great opening to a great book. Perhaps I’ll post on Keller’s chapter at a later date.