The audio from yesterday’s worldview symposium, “Who’s Got Next?” is available at http://grts.cornerstone.edu/resources/tpoints.
Jim Grier peppered his talk on epistemology with his usual provocative thoughts about preaching and ministry. The one that caught a lot of attention, and seemed right, is that within the next ten years many of us who believe in the exclusivity of Jesus Christ are going to be persecuted by our pluralistic culture. Jim warned us that most of the people in our churches aren’t prepared to suffer, so things might get ugly. Joel Osteen may not be the one to lead us into the future.
After my talk on the theological issues confronting the church (inclusive soteriology, optimistic anthropology, and “humble” epistemology), Joe Stowell gave a powerful address on the exclusivity of Jesus and the gospel. He helpfully stressed that even if the culture dismisses our beliefs as overly judgmental and divisive, they will be receptive to the good works that we do before them (Matt. 5:16). He supported this with examples from the early church, who, though persecuted for their exclusive faith by the pluralistic Romans, also earned their respect by caring for their poor and raising the children left to die by exposure. It reminded me of a quote from Julian the Apostate, who complained in the middle of the 4th century that the Christians cared more for the pagan poor than the pagans did.
It also made me think: what are the ways that the church can do good works today–what are the forgotten needs or people that we can care for and so show the love of Christ? The opportunities may vary by location, but it seems like a terrific opening for the gospel–and worth doing on its own right, because we love people.