Embracing the Strangeness of Christianity

Russell Moore on being Christian in a non-Christian culture:

…what I often tell people in churches and at Christian conferences is about a conversation I had with a lesbian activist, a secularist, about a Christian view of sexuality. She said, ‘I don’t know anybody who believes the sorts of things that you people believe about marriage and sex and it sounds incredibly strange to me.’ And my response was to say, ‘Yes, and we believe even stranger things than that. We believe a previously dead man is going to show up in the sky on a horse.’ In order to try to say to our people, ‘You know, Christianity didn’t emerge in Mayberry. Christianity emerged in a Greco-Roman environment that found the Christian sexual ethic just as shocking and strange as American culture increasingly does now.’ So what do we do? We don’t run from strangeness. We instead learn to articulate it with clarity and with mission. And also to say you can’t find a shelter to keep you from having to engage these issues.

…I don’t think we should ever transition from strangeness. I think we should have a strangeness with clarity. What I see happening in the New Testament is very different from the sort of dime store prosperity gospel that we often see in evangelicalism, which wants to say that Jesus is a means to living a normal Christian life, with all of that and heaven too, which doesn’t make sense of what the New Testament model is. Every time that Jesus is preaching the gospel, and people are starting to respond to his message, Jesus always turns around and clarifies, not clarifying in order to remove the strangeness of his message, but clarifying in order to reveal the strangeness of his message. He says, ‘I don’t think you understand what I’m talking about. I’m talking about taking up a cross and following me.’ I think that’s what has to happen, where we’re not quarrelsome, we’re not seeking to demonize our opponents, we’re seeking to be persuasive and we’re seeking to articulate the gospel, but we’re articulating that gospel without trying to evacuate it of its strange otherworldly message, which is what we believe is the power to save. That’s how people are transformed. coming into contact with something that is radically different from what they’ve otherwise experienced.

This is right. In a society that is increasingly disconnected from Christian tradition, Christians are going to have to get used to dealing with people who think they are like modestly-attired space aliens.

(via Justin Taylor)

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