Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Western Christ followers: "Recover thy nerve"

By Rich Bordner

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, an Anglican Bishop from Rochester, England, has been the center of much controversy for a few years now. Most of the controversy hovers around his comments about Islam. For one, he has unashamedly called for the evangelism of Muslims worldwide.

Here in the wild, wild west, 'dems fightin' woyds. "GASP! He said WHAT?! How dare the bigot offend our Muslim friends! Quick! Call the Human Rights Gestapo, er, Commission!"

Where's Canada when you need it? Sheesh.

It comes as no surprise that non-Christians balk at such sentiments. Though inclusivism, relativism, and pluralism are in error, the fact that most in the non-believing world are fans of those ideas is hardly front-page news. It is a horse of a different color, though, when Christians themselves embrace these ideas, as many of Nazir-Ali's colleagues in Anglicanism have.

Nazir-Ali has noticed this zeitgeist in the western church at large, and this week at a press conference at GAFCON (the Global Anglican Future Conference) he re-affirmed his stance. In his speech, he exhorted all fellow Christians to speak up about their faith wherever they are at, and also to commit to bringing the gospel message to peoples that have not heard it before.

"Let us pray we are able to recover the Christian nerve in the West and to make sure the Gospel is not lost," he said.

To paraphrase: "Brothers and sisters in the LORD...there's a gauntlet...you gonna pick it up, or just stare at it?"

This guy gets it. He perceives, correctly, I think, that many (though not all...I don't want to over-generalize here.) of us in the western church have a squishy backbone when it comes to talking to folks about the gospel. We allow the persecution of being called intolerant (can that even be called "persecution"? Nah, man.) to obscure the fact that without Christ, no one will escape the gavel of God's justice. We are rebels in arms against God, and only God's gracious offer of amnesty through Christ can change that....F-A-C-T. T-R-U-T-H, not just "for me," but objectively, is true regardless of who believes it.

Maybe some of us have never really believed that in the first place.

At any rate, Nazir-Ali gets that a significant portion of us are losing this focus. Many of us are content only to serve their earthly needs, giving people cups of cold water and then watching as they jump off the cliff of eternity, straight to hell.

That is not love.

Serving earthly needs is necessary, and cannot be divorced from the Kingdom. But neither can a bold proclamation of the full counsel of God. This is why Nazir-Ali's exhortation to "recover (our) nerve" is a worthy prescription for many believers in the west.

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