Churchianity or Christianity part 2: The Nature of Gospel Mission

Apr 3, 2018 by

by Dr Joseph Boot, Christian Concern:

n the first of his series on ‘Churchianity’, Dr Joseph Boot argued of the need for Christians to develop a cultural theology grounded in the Bible. He continues his series by looking at two common faults among evangelicals’ approaches to culture.

Two dominant tendencies regarding the mission of God’s people 

It should come as no surprise that something is amiss amongst modern evangelical churches, whether Reformed, charismatic, pentecostal, baptist or any other stripe. They are not providing an adequate or consistent response to the challenges of an increasingly anti-Christian culture. On the whole, evangelical leaders seem poorly prepared to equip God’s people for the pressing task of applying biblical truth to all of life in an often hostile cultural context – indeed part of the problem is that not all are agreed whether we should apply scriptural truth to all areas of life and thought.  

I discern two common tendencies in response to the question of the gospel’s relationship to culture, and by extension the mission of God’s people who declare and live that gospel in the world, and they are linked by common root problems. These tendencies in the church today can be seen first in those who greatly overrate the place and role of the institutional church and its offices – thus neglecting or even rejecting the idea that other spheres, institutions and forms of cultural life are realms subject to God’s Word. Second, there are those who greatly overrate the role of the state (or political life in general) and its responsibilities and functions in working out the kingdom purposes of God in history.  

In the first case the visible institutional church is essentially identified and conflated with the city and kingdom of God and so what develops, despite a common insistence that they are ‘gospel-centred,’ is a radically church-centred faith – what I am calling churchianity. This group is at best disinterested in Christ’s manifest Lordship over any other sphere of life or institution and at worse they are hostile to it. Those in this camp are normally biblically orthodox in soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) whilst pietistic and often retreatist when it comes to culture. In general they want little or no engagement with society, arts and civil government from a distinctly Christian standpoint – especially in the areas of law and education – and any talk of redeeming or transforming culture is seen as out of bounds.  

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