Christian witness in the 21 century - incarnantional engaged approach

Dissertation, Free State University (1997)
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Abstract
Research for this study was served by the hypothesis that the Christian’s lifestyle and witness in a postmodern world will depend on the definition and practice of worship and spirituality. The Old Testament reveals a spirituality that has ‘Yahweh’ involved in all aspects of life. Awareness and experience of the presence of God is linked to obedience to God. New Testament spirituality implies imitation of Christ and an effort to obey Christ's twofold command: to love God and neighbor as self. Christian exhortation (contemplation/meditation) and adoration never take place in isolation from the world because God is active in the world. Adoration leads to action in the world which, in turn, leads to adoration of God. All work done and all life lived for God's sake is, in essence, worship. Being a Christian implies living a life of sacrifice, making a gift of your life to God. As the Christian strives with the Spirit's guidance and empowerment to love God with his/her heart, soul, mind, body - and his/her neighbor as him/her self, in a moment by moment way; as he/she worships God with adoration and action; then he/she is living a true Biblical Christian life and experiencing and practicing true Biblical worship and spirituality. For the postmodernist, religious relativism is incompatible with the objective truth claims of Christianity and the words ‘Christian’ and ‘Church’ mean either empty tradition or abusive totalizing metannarrative. To maintain its identity and practice effective and relevant ministry, the Church should reflect an internal unity in desire, in life, in purpose, and in love. The Church must be the incarnate and engaged love and glory of God to a world that judges Christian truth claims by the lifestyle and witness of Christians. A praxis-orientated apologetic of an incarnational engaged worship and spirituality will demonstrate Christians truth claims. This gives Christianity integrity, credibility, and intelligibility to postmodernists that seek an experiential spirituality in the postmodern era of deconstruction. Evangelism is founded in who God is and what God has done for humanity through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christian’s demonstrate the Gospel as they love their God and their neighbor with devotion and conduct. They proclaim God’s love with plausibility when they reveal God’s love in action as a visual aid for Gods truth. As Christian worship and spirituality produce the actions that give voice to the nature and will of God, Jesus Christ will ‘rise again’ in the postmodern world through an incarnational and engaged Christian faith. Point summary: i. Authentic Biblical Christian worship is a lifestyle that takes place in an interdependent rhythm of both adoration (joyful praise of God) and action (obedient service to God). ii. Holistic spirituality is the lived moment by moment experience of Christian belief in both general and specialized forms (the Christian faith), and the reaction that the Christian’s belief system arouses in religious consciousness and practice moment by moment (the Christian faith). iii. Biblical worship and spirituality is thus conformity of heart and life with the confession and character of Jesus Christ. It is living life in the coram Deo (the presence of God) in obedience to His will out of gratitude for salvation. iv. Worship, spirituality, and the Christian faith become equivalent terms for each other and as defined in i-iii above reflect an incarnational engaged approach to evangelism. v. Worship and spirituality as a praxis-orientated apologetic presented as an incarnational engaged approach (that tells God’s story and your story) in a postmodern world, will be a more effective method of evangelism than rational apologetics and program/method based evangelism.
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