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Miniblog #161: Evangelism in Light of Church History’s Great and Ironic Tragedy

by Carson T. Clark on December 18, 2012

Do you ever have old thoughts that sink in a new way or to a new degree? What once were obvious are suddenly profound. I had that yesterday. It was inspired by Philip Yancey’s observation, “All too often the church holds up a mirror reflecting back the society around it, rather than a window revealing a different way.” Perhaps the great and tragic irony of Christianity is that the less Christians there are the more we seem to live like Christ and the more Christians there are the less we seem to live like Christ. We manifest a collective prophetic voice when we’re persecuted but silence it to then persecute others. This has been a fairly consistent pattern throughout church history, and I find it deeply disturbing. Moreover, it raises undeniable complexities in our evangelistic efforts amidst an ever-increasingly Post-Christian, Western cultural context. Specifically, on an emotional level it kind of makes me want to let the Church go ahead and shrink so as to encourage a more authentic, faithful presence. I’m not saying that’s right or biblical. Clearly we must always proclaim the Gospel. All I’m saying is that, logically, it would appear to be the natural correction to our present corruption and excesses. Of course, Christian aren’t determinists. We don’t believe that because that’s the way things have been it’s necessarily the way things must be. Therein lies our hope, I suppose. It just causes me to wonder what we must do to curb this terrible trend moving into the future.

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