From Chapter 1 of The Gospel and the Mind by Green

Given that our culture often seems unconscious of the importance of history, of the past, we must recognise that our efforts to pass on an intellectual inheritance to our children and to other children in our community will have to be more intentional than they have been. While I am not ready to head to the monastery (although at times it is tempting), Christians will have to continue to build pockets of sanity in this “perverse and wicked generation”. These pockets of sanity need not have brick walls, and they should have open doors and open arms. Nonetheless Christians will surely have to be more deliberate about fostering certain habits and disciplines, with full awareness that they will receive no support from the broader culture and at times not from the Christian church. Robert Jenson says “If we have a calling ,it is not to join a predefined intellectual enterprise but to reinvent one. And there is nothing preposterous about the notion, since we invented the West’s intellectual enterprise in the first place.” In the words of Alasdair MacIntyre, at the end of his seminal work After Virtue, “What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us”

David Robertson at Menai Anglican Church

On Wednesday I had the privilege of hearing David Robertson speak at Menai Anglican Church. He covered many topics, mainly in the area of evangelism and apologetics in modern culture. I took some notes, here they are in their very rough and unedited form. Perhaps some will be useful:

Proclaiming Christ in a post Christian culture:

  • Acts 17:6. What kind of world was being turned upside down? Don’t just influence, turn upside down. Jesus does this. Not politics. Gospel
  • Ireland and Scotland changed quickly. Why are people dancing and singing for abortion? Surely if abortion is permissible, it is a bittersweet and necessary evil.
  • We are regressing to a Greco-roman pagan world. Not progressive.

Dangers:

  • Secular utopianism. Pinker’s enlightenment, ignores bad stuff. Things can only get better. But things aren’t. Advancing to nirvana never happens. Hitler thought he was progressive. Lewis Namier. Most academics were Nazis.
  • Religious Fundamentalism. Unthinking Christianity included, but also Islam. Progressive utopian have to believe all religions are fundamentally the same. But Islam is a political system. Welcome them and spread the Gospel
  • State fascism. Control of the state over everything. If we remove the church from culture, the state now provides the function of the church: Morality, schools (social engineering, what to think. Safe schools). Values of the elites imposed. Guilty until proven innocent in university sexual assault committees.
  • Consumerist dumbed down materialism. Affluenza. Cannot serve both God and mammon. Prosperity Gospel, exported out of the West, is evil.
  • New age paganism. Sexuality, mother earth, “cool”. Trying to be different. Nothing new under the sun.
  • Sexual confusion and dysfunctional families. Nothing surprising here. Especially pushed in schools, even primary school. Children need a mum and dad.
  • Equality: we are becoming unequal. Only focused on sexuality, but finance is more important.
  • The church. Society needs Jesus.  Don’t patronise poor people, they need the Gospel more than soup kitchens. Australia will become worse soon perhaps. Billy Graham 1959 had long-lasting impact. Moore college had a big impact. Immigrants are an opportunity. But weak on 25-40 year olds, who are sheltered. Tribalism. Struggle with answering objections. And we are going to decline in 10 years without renewal. What can we do: Don’t fight to save Christendom. Make more disciples

 

  • We will never have difficulty in evangelism if the glory of the Lord fills the temple. Don’t let them see us as fake, dead, boring, unreal. Let them think we’re crazy or wrong. But not dead.
  • Ireland makes us angry because it’s people shaking their fists at God. Our primary emotion should be sorrow, as God is being mocked.
  • How to present our views on social issues? They are shibboleth issues, testing if we are culturally orthodox. Jesus responds with a question to get to the bigger issues. Don’t answer in their framework, take it to a wider framework. Don’t avoid and don’t compromise, but go bigger.
  • Sidenote: narratives and metanarratives, new sincerity, end of post-modernism. This is good for us.
  • Society has a vision of the church. But it is wrong. The church is for glorifying Jesus and proclaiming the Gospel. Don’t use care for the poor as evangelism, it’s patronising and manipulative.
  • Australia has phenomenal opportunities to be useful in Asia for evangelism