Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Carey Conference 2013 04

The first session this morning was John Stevens of FIEC on Light for our nation
1. The spiritual state of our nation

formally Christian but functionally atheist 
  • Decline of Christian belief
  • Collective failure of church to stand firm for the gospel
  • Irrelevance of the historical Constitutional Settlement
  • Impact of empirical pluralism
  • Implausibility of Christian sexual immorality
  • Lack of belief in eternal judgement
  • Influence of the media
  • Collapse of Christian cultural influence
  • Rise of secularism as an ideology
  • Marginalisation and privatisation of the church
  • Subtle persecution of Christians and the church

2. Theological Models for the Mission of the Church in Relation to the State

Tim Keller (Centre Church) common approaches

  • Transformationist (Presbyterian)
  • Relevance (Anglican)
  • Counterculturalist (Baptist)
  • Two Kingdoms (Stevens – in modified form)

3. How is God at work in his World?

  • Purpose in creation (Gn 1:28)
  • Two kingdoms (Ac 26:18, Ep 2:2, 6:10-20, Col 1:13)
  • Absolutely sovereign over government and rulers (Dan 4:25, Jn 19:11, Ex 9:16, Isa 45:13)
  • Judges people by handing them over to sin (Rom 1:24-28)
  • Jesus victorious over sin, Satan and death
  • Jesus establishing his kingdom as he reigns in glory (1 Cor 15:25)
  • Entrance into Kingdom by redemption/regeneration (Jn 3:5-8, Col 1:12-14, 1 Co 15:50)
  • Kingdom not present simply because justice is practised
  • Attitude of government to God's people varies (supportive, benign, hostile, oppressive)
  • What is the place of our work in the world? (Gn 1:28, Mt 28:16-20, 1 Cor 15:58)

4. What is the Purpose of Civil Government in the Plan of God?

  • Maximalist, minimalist views of the state
  • Government to maintain civil peace and permit gospel freedom (1 Tim 2:1-7)
  • Government to restrain evil and do good (Rom 13:1-7)
  • Government to enforce justice/Shalom in all dimensions
  • Relationship between state and church
  • Is the state the kingdom or the place of exile?
  • Does the state exist to promote true religion? (Contrast Westminster Confession/1689)
  • Don't put your hope in civil government to bring salvation
  • Function of the state in a plural society (Neutrality between communities? Privilege one and limit freedom for others?)

5. What is our Mission to Our Nation?

  • Distinction between mission and effect
  • Not to regain former national glory
  • Not to impose mere morality or Christian values (1 Cor 5:9-13)
  • Not to secure our own comfort
  • Not to secure psychological support for our faith
  • But to make disciples who acknowledge Jesus as Lord and live in obedience to him

6. How Can We Accomplish Our Mission?

  • Plural approaches
  • Persistent Prayer
  • Plausibility of the gospel
  • Prophetic Proclamation
  • Persuasive Influence
  • Practice Civil Disobedience
  • Persevere in the face of Persecution
  • Political Activism?
  • Prioritisation
  • Poportionate Reaction

7. What is The Task of Church Leaders?

  • Eph 4:11-13, Tit 2:1-15
  • Enable people to understand the times
  • Encourage realistic expectations
  • Equip to serve God in ordinary vocations
  • Empower to be faithful witnesses
8. Approaching the Next Fifty Years
  • Don't be like Hezekiah!
  • Take the klong view
  • Take heart from church history
  • Is our culture on the cusp of a major shift?
  • Beware of a revived Romanism
  • Be encouraged that churches are growing

9. Conclusion

Romans 1:16
Further reading:
Keller, Centre Church; Grudem, Politics according to the Bible; De Young & Gilbert, WHat is the Mission of the Church?; VanDrunen, Living in God's Two Kingdoms; J D Hunter, To Change the world; Spencer & Chaplin, God and government; Carson, Christ and CUlture Revisited; Pearcy, Total Truth.


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