Public Truth

7 08 2010

I like that term ‘Public Truth’. The Gospel is public truth.

Too often, in a pluralist society, the Christian church has been strangely content to be relegated to a one-option among many type of group. Like a club to join, take it, or leave it. This is not good enough, considering the call of God upon the church, to make known the plan of God, for the world. It is not good enough to be thought of as being ‘nice’.

Leslie Newbigin, a missionary and Christian leader, globally, has written:

‘…the gospel cannot be accommodated as one element in a society which has pluralism as its reigning ideology. The Church cannot accept as its role simple the winning of individuals to a kind of Christian discipleship which concerns only the private and domestic parts of life. To be faithful to a message which concerns the kingdom of God, his rule over all things and all peoples, the Church has to claim the high ground of public truth’.

‘…Europe was a Christian society in the sense that its public truth was shaped by the biblical story with its center in the incarnation of the Word in Jesus’ (Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, Eerdmans, 1989, p. 222)

However, far from advocating a return to the past, Newbigin is interested in the present and future approach to society, as we now find it. He sees the congregation as the hermeneutic of the gospel. That is, the primary reality in having an impact upon public life, is the community of God’s people, the Christian congregation. We are reminded that Jesus did not write a book, but formed a community.

The Christian community bears witness to the world of the public truth of her claims as she is:

1. A community of praise and thanks. It is not to be always complaining, bemoaning problems and whining.

2. A community of truth. Living truthfully. Knowing true freedom. Affirming true human dignity.

3. Not living for herself, but involved in the concerns of the neighborhood. A church, is a church in a place, to affect that place.

4. A Royal Priesthood is not ‘the religious stuff’ but the highly-gifted body of Christ, all out in the daily business of life.

5. Advocating a new social order, where corporate community and individualism is the primary reality.

6. A community of hope. A Risen Lord Jesus was crucified to put an end to sin and death, and to open a new way, eternally.

So, then, may the public truth of what Jesus Christ was and is about, be made known in our day. As Emil Brunner once said (I think it was him), the church exists for the sake of those who are not is members.

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