Posts Tagged ‘challenge of jesus’

I finally finished The Challenge of Jesus by N. T. Write. While I struggled through the first half of the book, the second half was something I was able to grasp more fully without having to read every other line ten times. These quotes are strictly from the last two chapters, dealing with Christianity in the post-modern world.


“Motive, goal, identity – all these have been undermined by the shifting sands of postmodernity.”


“[Postmodernity] is…a necessary judgment on the arrogance of modernity, a judgment from within. Our task is to reflect on this moment of despair within our culture, and, reflecting biblically and christianly, to see our way through the moment of despair and out the other side.”


Telling yourself to hope is not the same as hoping; but if it’s all you can do, it’s better than nothing.”


“They thereby became part of the vanguard for God’s project of restoring the world, in which his image-bearers take his forgiving love and wise ordering – that is, his kingdom – to the whole of creation.”


“Somewhere along the road, literally and metaphorically, God’s light and truth had come to lead them, to lead them into his very presence, to the place where hope gives way to joy, and mourning to dancing.”


“We have had our noses rubbed in the fact that reality isn’t all it was cracked up to be; what we thought was hard facts turns out to be somebody’s propaganda…We have watched as the postmodern world has torn down the controlling stories by which modernity, including Christian modernity, ordered it’s world. All we are left with is the great postmodern virtual smorgasbord, where you can pick and choose what you want.”


Preach the gospel by all means possible, [St. Francis] said; and if it’s really necessary, you could even use words.”


“We as Western Christians mostly bought a bit too heavily into modernism, and we are shocked to discover that it’s been dying for a while and is now more or less completely dead. We need to learn how to listen for the hidden stranger on the road, who will explain to us how it was that these things had to happen, and how there is a whole new world out there waiting to be born, for which we are called to be the midwives.”


“Christian mission in the postmodern world must be the means of the Church grasping the initiative and enabling our world to turn in the right direction.”


“We must get used to living as those who have truly died and risen with Christ, so that our self, having been thoroughly deconstructed, can be put back together, not by the agendas which the world presses upon us, but by God’s spirit.”


“Was it not necessary that modernist versions of Christianity should die in order that truth might be freshly glimpsed, not as a set of doctrines or theories but as a person, and as persons indwelt by that person?”


“[H]ow long must it be before we learn that our task as Christians is to be in the front row of constructing the post-postmodern world.”


“Nietzsche, Freud and Marx were quite right. We had a war to end wars, and we’ve had nothing but more wars ever since. We had a sexual revolution, and now we have AIDS and more family-less people than ever before. We pursued wealth, but we had inexplicable recessions, and ended up with half the world in crippling debt. We can do what we like, but we’ve all forgotten why we liked it. Our dreams have gone sour, and we don’t even know who “we” are any more. And now even the church has let us down, corrupting its spiritual message with talk of cosmic political revolution.”


“If you build on the foundation in the present time with gold, silver and precious stones, your work will last. In the Lord your labor is not in vain…You are following Jesus and shaping our world, in the power of the Spirit; and when the final consummation comes the work that you have done, whether in Bible study or biochemistry, whether in preaching or in pure mathematics, whether in digging ditches or in composing symphonies, will stand, will last.”


“There is only one foundation, and whenever you are doing any building you must go back and check on the foundation to know what sort of building it already is, and how you might best proceed.”


“Everything that we read [in the Gospel] tells us something about the foundation upon which we are called to build.”


“[B]earing God’s image is not just a fact, it is a vocation. It means being called to reflect into the world the creative and redemptive love of God…What we are faced with in our culture is the post-Christian version of the doctrine of original sin; all human endeavor is radically flawed, and the journalists who take delight in pointing this out are simply telling, over and over again, the story of Genesis 3 as applied to today’s leaders, politicians, royalty and rock stars. And our task, as image-bearing, God-loving, Christ-shaped, spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping out world, is to announce redemption to the world that has discovered its fallenness; to announce healing to the world that has discovered its brokenness; to proclaim love and trust to the world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion.”


“[T]he proper way to expound the parables today is to ask: what should we be doing in God’s world that would call forth the puzzled or even angry questions to which parables like these would be the right answer?”


“There is a real danger here, that Christians who have not actually done the hard work, or thought through the issues, will hide there incompetence behind a cheap dismissal of their academic or professional superiors as dehumanizing non-Christians. That might of course be a true assessment, but it might also be the mere sour grapes of disappointed ambition.”


“Because following [Jesus] involves taking up the cross, we should expect, as the New Testament tells us repeatedly, that to build on his foundation will be to find the cross etched into the pattern of our life and work over and over again.”


“The way of Christian witness is neither the way of quietest withdrawal, nor the way of Herodian compromise nor the way of angry militant zeal. It is the way of being in Christ, in the Spirit, at the place where the world is in pain, so that the healing love of God may be brought to bear at that point.”


“I live in a world which has done its best, sine the Enlightenment, to separate the Church from the academy. I believe passionately that this is deeply dehumanizing in both directions.”


“…my calling is not necessarily to solve the great dualities of our post-Enlightenment, and now postmodern, world, but to live in prayer at the places where the world is in pain, in the assurance that through this means, at a level far deeper than the articulate solving of the problem, my discipline may find new fruitfulness, and my church, perhaps, new directions.”


“The darkest times have again and again been the most productive at every level.”


“As C. S. Lewis said in a famous lecture, next to the sacrament itself your Christian neighbor is the holiest object ever presented to your sight; because in him or her the living Christ is truly present.”


“…we are cracked vessels full of glory, wounded healers. God forgive us that we have imagined true humanness, after the Enlightenment model, to mean being successful, having it all together, knowing all the answers, never making mistakes, striding through the world as though we owned it.”


“Those who are engaged in academic work are in the ‘knowing’ business, and must allow the gospel to challenge and remake their very notions of knowing. All Christians, whatever their vocation, are called to knowledge of God, of themselves, of one another, of the world.”


“It isn’t simply that the gospel of Jesus offers us a religious option which can outdo other religious options, can fill more effectively the slot labelled ‘religion’ on the cultural and social smorgasbord. The gospel of Jesus points us, and indeed urges us, to be at the leading edge of the whole culture, articulating in story and music and art and philosophy and education and poetry and politics and theology and even, heaven help us, biblical studies, a worldview which will mount the historically rooted Christian challenge to both modernity and postmodernity, leading the way into the post-postmodern world with joy and humour and gentleness and good judgment and true wisdom. I believe we face the question: If not now, then when? And if we are grasped by this vision, we may also hear the question: If not us, then who? And if the gospel of Jesus is not the key to this task, then what is? ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you…’. Receive the Holy Spirit, forgive and retain sins.”


Read Full Post »