According to recent estimates by the Barna group, three-fourths of American adults now believe that truth is not absolute, but changes relative to the situation. This trend is alarming and dangerous. But what should we do about it?
Some have said that Christians should fight against this trend by upholding and preaching a Biblical message of absolute truth.
Although I don’t disagree with that statement, I think that it is needs some clarification. Unless we understand what has happened in our culture and why, our response to this trend of moral relativism may be ineffective or counterproductive.
Dear Reader: The following is a fictional conversation written to initiate discussion on an important topic concerning different traditions of the Christian faith. This article is not meant to be a divisive but to spark informative, honest and respectful discussion. One author happens to be Protestant and the other Roman Catholic. We are good friends (so far), go to the same church (somehow), and do not intend to ignite another “holy war” (yet). Instead, we thought this would be an entertaining and humorous way to discuss serious issues of doctrine.
John Paul and Luther Van Calvin, two 16th century commoners, mysteriously find themselves on the campus of the University of Chicago during the University’s club fair orientation. They are unsure of what age of history they are in but through a series of discussions with the locals (and each other), they may soon find out.
A while back, one of our readers asked for an article that explores the relationship between UBF shepherds and sheep. Many volumes could be written about that subject. In my limited experience as a blogger, I have learned that it is best to write pieces that are narrowly focused. So today I will raise just one question.
In a shepherd-sheep relationship, who sacrifices more: the shepherd or the sheep?
For clarity, let’s define the terms. A shepherd, in our UBF lingo, is a believer who attempts to evangelize and disciple someone else in the Christian faith. A sheep is the target of his or her efforts, the one who is being actively evangelized and discipled. The main vehicle for this discipleship is one-to-one Bible study, so shepherd and sheep are sometimes called “Bible teacher” and “Bible student,” respectively.
Philip Jenkins, writing in his pre-9-11 book The Next Christendom, laments the fact that religion — in particular, the dawning of the movement of Christianity from a Western European and North American context to a Latin American, Asian and African one — “was barely mentioned in all the media hoopla surrounding the end of the second millennium.” With the rise of Christianity in the Southern hemisphere, the most important issues in politics, demographics, land and culture in the majority world will have to do with how well Christians interact with each other and with other religions such as Islam. Jenkins writes, “I suggest that it is precisely religious changes that are the most significant, and even the most revolutionary, in the contemporary world. Before too long, the turn-of-the-millennium neglect of religious factors may come to be seen as comically myopic…”
Given the projections that by 2050 only one Christian in five will be white, Jenkins endeavors to investigate the ecclesiastical and theological impact of the Southern hemispheric shift on the whole Church.