Written by: Tendai Chitsike
Article source: JOY! Magazine

In 1999, I had to study a subset of family law termed, ‘The Law of Husband and Wife’. Had I enrolled in 2007, that section would have been replaced with, ‘The Law of Civil Partnerships.’ Much more than a name change, the law of the land reflected a cultural shift in how marriage is viewed.

In a similar vein, the Constitutional Court outlawed any physical punishment a parent may use on their child in 2019. In our mainstream media, I struggle to think of the last time I read a favourable mention of a Christian leader.

Elsewhere in the West, the Church is currently experiencing a fast-diminishing influence on the culture, with dominant worldviews steadily imposing themselves even within the Church and other Christian institutions. Among other challenges, Churches and Christians in some nations face bans on street preaching and conversion therapy, transgender impositions within the workplace, and contemporary social justice agendas redefining their seminaries, colleges, denominations, and local churches.

How is the Church responding?
In the midst of the undeniable cultural shift that is at play, a question has gnawed at me for some time: Are today’s Christian leaders sufficiently equipped to lead the church through uncharted cultural waters?
Without undertaking any research to answer this, my hunch would be no. I’ve been somewhat encouraged however to see Christian leaders not only arriving at this same conclusion, but also providing a helpful compass to navigate our way forward.

To change society, the Church needs to be culturally relevant, yet biblically sound.

Tim Keller’s sentiments
In his 2020 ebook entitled ‘How to Reach the West Again’, Pastor Tim Keller offers both a helpful analysis and a roadmap for Christian engagement. Keller believes that contemporary society is doing a much better job discipling (he used the word catechising) the West, and in particular the young, writing: “…Those consuming digital content are being deeply catechised for far more hours in a week and far more effectively than anything the church is doing.” In particular, Keller writes that this age is busy catechising the faithful in narratives of Identity, Freedom, Happiness, Science, Morality, Justice, and History. While Scripture does guide us on these issues, Keller believes that “…our current instruction does not show this. We (therefore) need a counter-catechism that explains, refutes, and re-narrates the world’s catechisms to Christians.” A core part of this ‘counter-catechism’ must therefore begin with the theological training of ministers and lay leaders.

Christianity has become marginalised
Christian philosopher JP Moreland shares similar concerns from the world of philosophy. Lamenting how a Christian worldview has become marginalised in the West, Moreland believes that to address this, Christian intellectuals must give “philosophical ability and training a central place in church and seminary education.”

Secondly, he is convinced that we need to teach pastors to start institutes for study and activism to equip believers to think about how Christianity relates to their vocation at the level of ideas and to be able to understand and critique contemporary culture to spread Christ’s influence and to win others to Christ.

Why is this necessary? Moreland is convinced that “…The standard seminary curriculum, absent the chance to be trained in philosophical apologetics, is simply not producing ministers who are equipped for war and have the courage to get involved in the conflict of ideas raging all about us.” In addition, believing that “the hot issues of the day are largely ethical and philosophical,” he believes that the church must set up foundations to fund evangelicals in doctoral degrees in philosophy and ethics.

As was the case in 1 Chronicles 12:32, may the Lord once more raise up men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.

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Date published: 15/03/2022
Tendai Chitsike – Pastor of Every Nation Church in Makhanda. Email: engrahamstown@gmail.com

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