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COMMUNITY VOICE

Book about necessity of change, what you compromise and what you don't

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 12:01 am

“The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World” is a relatively short book, though not an easy read. It addresses the most important challenge of religion today, and a problem in all areas: How do you adjust to changes around you without surrendering what is foundational to truth?

The chapters in “The Supremacy of Christ” are written by different pastors, with several concluding chapters of follow-up questions and discussions. John Piper, author of “Out of the Salt Shaker and Into the World,” has long addressed these challenges. I found the last two writers – Mark Driscoll, the preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and Tim Keller, senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City – had the more practical and insightful challenges with solutions.

Large cities, especially, have dramatically changed. Many Christian churches have fled to the suburbs, abandoning both the teaching and the service mission of the church to large groups – perhaps a majority – of the population. D.A. Carson, professor at the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill., pointed out what he is seeing as he speaks on college campuses is that some of the historic objections against Christianity are absent. Because there is no biblical knowledge or church attendance history, there is not the same prejudicial resistance. This is an illustration of the increasing gap between the city and the countryside, even in the Fort Wayne area.

Driscoll has adjusted his approach to reaching those who are not Christians in many ways like what are called “seeker” churches, but he calls it “sensible” churches. Many times cultural issues become stumbling blocks and confused with Christian ones. Earrings in your nose is such an issue, and an argument against it can be made derived from Scripture, and I understand the concept of faithfulness in small things because any compromise leads to big compromise, but it tends to lead to people as well as churches to focus on the small things rather than big ones.

Driscoll and Keller have proven ministries that have succeeded yet do not compromise on the fundamentals of faith. Driscoll’s list includes the virgin birth, Scripture is inerrant, we are born with a sin nature, Jesus died as a substitute for us and our sins, conscious eternal torments of hell, and Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.

The danger to Christians who try to adjust to the cultural changes is that they will try to alter the fundamental teachings in order to make the Gospel more acceptable to others, particularly the exclusivity of Christ. This book about the necessity of change, what you compromise and what you don’t, is the best I’ve read on this subject.

It is also a call to engage with urban areas, as well as more difficult world missions, especially in the Muslim world where results are more difficult and persecution actually exists. Too often all of us stay inside our comfort zones, wringing our hands wondering why our worldview does not prevail. Ignorance is not always bliss.

Mark Souder is a former 3rd District congressional representative.