A conversation I was having with a student today reminded me of the importance of that unpopular, old-fashioned idea of ‘evangelism’. The conversation headed in the direction of a belief that people of the far-right, hate-mongers and suchlike, should be stopped from assembling. I expressed my belief that no speech, excite incitement to violence, should be outlawed. I feel this way partly out of a concern that if they stop the racists from speaking and assembling, who will be next? And when will they come knocking on Father Raphael’s door?
I also expressed, in the course of this conversation, my belief that the problem isn’t legislation but the human heart. You can’t legislate evil away.
And so my thoughts about the need for mission arose from this context in two main ways.
First, how can we speak the truth of Gospel into a culture that thinks ‘dangerous speech’ should be banned?
Second, how can we, as Christians, actually see the transformation of the wicked human heart that we all desire?
I no longer know the answer to the first, for I have grown frozen in speaking Gospel.
The second relates to actually making disciples, so is related to the first.
Nonetheless, I was reminded of the need to bring the Gospel to a hurting, broken world.
And all of this ties into the title of this post because I sometimes get a feeling from some corners of the Interwebs that Christians can be drawn into the mystical, contemplative, liturgical traditions of the Church as part of a reaction against some of the spiritual toxicity that is out there in some parts of evangelicalism.
And what I feel like I see sometimes is a retreat not simply from things like politics (which may be a good thing) but from God-talk altogether. Christian spirituality becomes therapy for me, and is spoken of as therapy for a broken world, but without actually engaging in the dreaded discipline of talking to other humans about the Gospel and God of grace, how are we really healing that broken world?
I am guilty of this to some degree, although I resist ‘mysticism as therapy’ as best I can.
My theory has always been that if we engage in spiritual disciplines, we will love God more, look like Him more, and be more comfortable as who we are. As a result, we will be able to speak Gospel to a broken, hurting world, a world that includes both racists and those who want to legislate against dangerous speech.
Question: Can someone give me evidence of this working for them?