Monday, April 16, 2012

“The Cross is not enough” book review – Chapter 3

As part of my post-resurrection Easter spiritual practice, I’m reading Cross Is Not Enough: Living as Witnesses to the Resurrection by Ross Clifford and Philip Johnson, Australian Baptist thinkers. I thought it would be a good discipline to blog as I read my way through the book. Chapter one is here, Chapter two is here

Chapter three

Most Baptists, after clearing their throat as to the purpose of their book and stating their main point, reach for the Bible, then consider the mission implications. Not Clifford and Johnson. In Chapter three, they turn to mission. Specifically, apologetics. More specifically, their experience of apologetics, especially among spiritual seekers.

When most Christians think about sharing about the resurrection they are immediately drawn to the truth question. A better entry point, however, is exploring what difference the resurrection makes in people’s lives and showing that it really does work.

The chapter argues for mission, and especially apologetics, that balances both the experiential and the intellectual. This is based on their experiences with spiritual seekers, whom they have found want both. It is also based on personality types. People are diverse, so we need a diverse church, offering both experience and intellectual.

In making this argument, they take aim at sections of the emerging church that have argued that in the wider cultural shift to postmodernity, we need a more experiential, communal apologetic. A particular target for Clifford and Johnson is Pete Rollins. They point out places in which he has derided intellectual apologetics. To be honest, it felt a strange critique, given that Rollins also writes intellectual books, enjoys name dropping European intellectuals like Zizek and seems to me to be seeking to articulate a robustly intellectual faith for a contemporary world. Have I misheard Rollins? Or have Clifford and Johnson?

The chapter is highly practical. It offers stories of how they use experiential tools like the Wheel of the Year (for an example, tied to Christ’s mission see here), a neo-pagan ritual calendar, in which they seek to highlight the dying-and-rising myth within the Wheel. They also describe their use of aromatherapy, massage and the Jesus Deck. This practical “experiential” missiology is then followed by a practical “intellectual” missiology in which they summarise the ‘logic’ of the resurrection: how they respond to questions like

  • Can we trust the NT Gospels?
  • Did Jesus really die?
  • What circumstantial evidence exists for the resurrection?
  • What evidence for resurrection lies outside the Bible and Church teachings?

It’s clear. It’s accessible. It’s based on lived experiences of mission among real people.  To sum chapter 3:

Do our personalities truly embody and express all the life-changing and empowering realities implied in Jesus’s resurrection?

Posted by steve at 10:19 AM

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