Evangelism In A Post-Christian Society -- By: Bruce A. Little

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 09:2 (Fall 2018)
Article: Evangelism In A Post-Christian Society
Author: Bruce A. Little

Evangelism In A Post-Christian Society

Bruce A. Little

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

The thesis argued here is that understanding the implications of a culture’s vision of reality shaping the intellectual life of any society is crucial to developing approaches for the proclamation of the gospel. A society’s vision of reality determines what is deemed acceptable or important. The danger today in the West is how anti-metaphysical realism is leading to the receptivity of cultural possibilities that are destructive to humanity and subversive to historic Christianity. As a consequence, four challenges present themselves to Christian evangelism: (1) the decline in conversation skills; (2) the loss of rational argument in public discourse; (3) the obsession with options; and (4) the fading sense of the sacred. The conclusion is that Christian evangelism must be guided by a Medieval realism to avoid the current distortions and disorderliness created by aberrant visions of reality today that are inimical to our evangelism.

Key Words: conversation, evangelism, media technology, mediated reality, options, post-Christian, progress, rational, realism, sacred

The gospel no longer penetrates. We seem to be confronted by a blank wall. Now if we want to go further, either we must find a door, or we must break down the wall. But first we must investigate this wall, in order to find out whether there is a door: thus we need to explore this world in which we are living. If there is not a door (as seems to me to be the case) then we must find (or create) the instruments we need in order to make a breach in it.

~Jacques Ellul1

I came to know Christ in May 1965 just prior to entering the US military. The time of my conversion and baptism was the time of great social upheaval across Europe and America. Since the 1940s existentialism had been taught in universities in the West, and in the 1960s the logical conclusion of that view of reality broke forth with a vengeance upon the West. The denial of metaphysical realism and with it with denial of objective truth threatened the very foundation of western societies. It was a

time of sexual, religious, educational, and political rebellion, an attempt to overturn the familiar, the very foundation of society itself. It appeared as an all-out attempt to bury the past and rebuild, but that was the problem—rebuild with what? There was no idea of what should follow other than the destruction of anything before them. Metaphysical realism was handed a pink slip. It was a rejection of a vision of reality that had a long history in the W...

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