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Brett
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I don't think the conversation is over yet, mainly because so many, both in the Church and outside it still ascribe to the modernist mindset. If you define what postmodernity was you are doing well and that only leaves the question where are we now. Most of the reality of mission is doing the hard work of dealing with people where you find them. Macro analysis of society can be helpful but only to a certain extent. I think we are getting to a point where what we find is diversity. The collective mind of society as prescribed by the media has been weakened by the internet and looking at the trends among younger people who often prefer the internet to TV this will be here to stay. Mission can only be focused on the people you encounter. I know it sounds obvious but so much of the missional conversation seems to be about other things, particularly reacting to traditional or other forms of church. My reflection is that the people I've met outside churches aren't particularly hung up on what model of church you run with but on how you treat them, or how well you do as a representative of Christ.
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Having just moved from Sydney, I can tell you that there is a vast difference between Anglicans in different places. I met a Benedictine Anglican Minister a week ago. In Melbourne Anglo-catholicism is a significant group in the Anglican Church. At times it is incredibly difficult to tell the difference between these guys and the Catholic church. Elements of the Emerging/Emergent movement appeal to some of these diverse elements in the Anglican Communion, as it offers hope of a way forward which sees validity in various traditional forms. However the key from my perspective is not just seeing validity in traditions but seeing potential for them to engage missionally. It is finding new ways to communicate the good news of Jesus to those outside the church that is important rather than merely affirming the validity of a given tradition.
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Thanks for you rant Matt. I appreciate that you feel some of the tensions in this debate. I think Ravi Zacharias' challenge is really, 'please tell me what you mean by unjust'. justice in this world often flows retrospectively after some sense of injured right. But what our rights are is hotly debated. Ethics is certainly more complicated than love, and love as a concept is used differently by different people. Evangelicals are right to be sceptical of science and I do not think we need more faith in science. Although I must admit that many evangelicals do not understand science and are too quick to dismiss it. Personally I love science but I know that I cannot trust science like I trust God. Lastly, I think if membership tops 11% that is fairly optimistic. Jesus spoke of Christianity as the narrow way and I think it still is that way. If that means God is not much of a God, or that he doesn't measure up to our standards that may just be reality.
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Thanks for this discussion Matt. One of the best lines of argument I have heard recently in the abortion debate is one that seeks to work for the rights of women. It tries to get beyond the pro-life and pro-choice deadlock by looking at the practical steps that need to happen. For many women, they feel that they simply have no option other than abortion, that a child will virtually end their life, or bring so many problems that they feel they can't face. I believe fundamentally that children are all a blessing from God and the helpless should always be protected. But a first step in this direction is providing the structures and supports socially so that women can see that keeping children is a viable option, and even the best option. Grassroots change is as far as I can see the best way to take positive steps forward. Organisations like Womens Forum Australia http://www.womensforumaustralia.com are some that are trying to do this in my neck of the woods.
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I live just south of the Muslim Arncliffe, but here is actually a mix of Orthodox, Catholic and secular people (in that order I think, secular is hard to gauge). It does make for interesting living.
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As someone who is part of the Moore College community I thought I'd add my two cents. Yes, I am doing my 4th year project on the Emerging Church in Australia and there are two of the faculty who are preparing a Masters level course on the subject. Contextually relevant mission is a subject that most are interested in, it is just they are not interested in the Emerging Church as a phenomenon. Missiology as a discipline does not have a high profile, but evangelism and church planting do. More broadly speaking, I find that there is interest in the Emerging Church, though many don't understand what it is. Mark Driscoll stirred the pot significantly when he visited. There is much discussion of church planting and ways of engaging with broader society, but not a great deal of interest in what is happening in America. I think it is unlikely that there will be much interest in revising reformed theology. The focus remains on working hard on the Bible and how it works its way out into life and ministry. The emphasis is on primary texts of the Bible and theology rather than the trends and novelties that come and go in the church. That can be both a strength and a weakness. The here danger is sliding into irrelevance. I don't think the Emerging church will gain great popularity amongst Sydney Anglicans, outside of Sydney I have heard of a much greater interest among Anglicans. I do think the general conservatism we see amongst many Sydney Christians will make Driscoll and others more attractive but even then, they are still foreigners. What I do see is most Sydney Anglican Churches do have mission very high on their agenda, and that is something to thank God for.
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Mark also turned up at Moore college and did a similar talk on preaching. In contrast he spoke about was for Moore people as 'the bible guys' to 'be more cool', he figured that we did not have a problem with preaching so much as being boring. He really encouraged Moore students to do the work understanding their context rather than just proclaiming the message. I thought he was really helpful for the folks at Moore, and he provoked considerable discussion. You can see some of the broader 'Sydney Anglican' interaction with his stuff on at: http://solapanel.org/article/mark_driscoll_rolls_grenade_down_aisle/
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Matt, Thanks, your diagram is very helpful in seeing what your on about. On the Question of 'Can you be too incarnational?' I am wondering if you can clarify it for me. I see the incarnation as something that has traditionally been reserved for Christ. It seems a stretch to me to see anyone as emulating God becoming man. Could we ever get to the point in our thinking where we see our mission as us 'being Christ' for others, rather than as his ambassadors?
Toggle Commented Jun 10, 2008 on Can you be too incarnational? at Journeys In Between
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