To my churched friends…I just read RT Kendal’s letter to the church in 2015. In UK RT Kendal was a great and big deal. I wonder if this is now “old-guard”. RT Kendal is writing a letter to the church of 2015 but I think it might still be the church of 1990 or 1940 that’s he is writing to.
Found here: http://www.premierchristianity.com/Past-Issues/2015/June-2015/The-letter-of-RT-Kendall-to-the-UK-Church
1) He talks about not “watering down the gospel” or “don’t try and say stuff that makes people like you but instead be true to the gospel”. But I feel like we in the church and everyone else in society has moved past that. In the turn of the century it was almost normal to be a Christian but not believe that God even existed. But now, personally I think thanks to Richard Dawkins, it’s even easier then ever to voice extreme views about the Gospel to non-christians. No one will get that offended about hell, about “there is only one right answer” or even miracles. Yeah, if you make it your job to use philosophy to argue that Christianity is true, you’ll get people saying that your views are offensive as a rhetorical ploy but if you speak to normal human beings they simply won’t care, they will expect it and maybe see it as a fun quirk.
Yeah people will be upset if you talk about homosexuality being a sin or abortion. But these are not issues central to the gospel. Some people in the Old Guard see it as a proxy battle for an “authentic gospel” but its just not. It’s a minor theological disagreement because even if homosexuality is sinful there is no excuse for the homophobia and suffering homosexual people have suffered at the hands of society and encouraged by the church.
2) He talks about combining the “Word” and the “Spirit”. For the past few decades there has been a battle raged between the “Charismatics” and the “Cessationists”. Yeah it still exists but by and large the charismatics have won. There are so many churches now guided by both word and spirit. So many places you can go where someone will pray for you in power and preach from the word with proper theology.
Yeah its true that you can still find churches that dislike anything to do with the spirit, you can see some churches that are just weird and ignore common sense and the word and you can find liberal places that don’t believe God exists. But the variety in the church is not a bad thing… the church as a whole has moved so much in the right direction, RT Kendal has won.
So what should someone like RT Kendal say to our generation? To the church of 2015?
I think “surprised by hope” is far more important by Tom Wright. Our church needs to take the spirit and the word and go. No longer merely to “win souls” but to bring about God’s kingdom. Our church needs to be a church motivated by, guided by and known for Love.
I remember doing a prayer room at a student music festival. The LGBT “lot” (I don’t mean all LGBT people are just one group but at university there was this group that stuck out, were involved in lots of student politics and were all friends with a degree of influence) used to use our area as the place they hung out. Before the event something in the news had happened where some Christian person had something about homosexuality and lots of student non-Christians warned us that the LGBT lot might get angry at us and speak to us about it.
Well they came, quite a few of them and they really seemed to love it. That group seemed to be the most noticeable group of non-Christians that took that prayer room seriously. They didn’t ask us to “pray the gay away” but instead were coming with issues of self-image, anxiety about university, help with their relationships. Just normal stuff that people care about because even though they dressed a distinct way they were just people like any other. If they had asked any of us the biblical position on homosexuality, and they really wanted to know, we would have told them without watering down the gospel (It would be a reasoned answer, mix with contradiction and disagreement on the various views but definitely not a “its just fine”). But they didn’t because its just not the most important thing in either of our lives.
Our church needs to be a church known for its love. Everyone should know that whatever background you come from you’ll find love here and real love, love that is FOR them, that cares about them, love that brings about change and healing, love that beckons in God’s kingdom. That should be the primary thing we know about. We can do that with the power of the spirit and we can do that with the inerrancy of the scripture still intact.
We need more Christians in our communities, anyone who is on the verge of suicide, anyone who has had a tough break up, anyone who is struggling with office politics, or self-identity should know that the Church will be FOR them, we’ll love them even if we disagree with them, even if we live our own lives a very different way. We need Christians in politics fighting for politics based on love. In the crusades the Franciscan monks helped the crusaders but then would also go over to the Muslim camps and help them (This might be wrong I can’t find my source). The “Christian” view on Israel and Palestine should be to love Israel and to love Palestine. The Christian view on ISIS should be to love those being persecuted but to love ISIS. When 1 person beheads another, 2 people die.
I think us Christians growing up in this post- mainstream charismatic evangelical church need to remember RT Kendals… but also break free of them… their battles are not our own, this is a new time with new challenges for the church.
Canon Andrew White says the main thing his church needs to do is love, love, love.