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What does evangelism look like among those for whom absolute truth claims are anathema? Brian McLaren of Cedar Ridge Community Church spoke at a Billy Graham Center evangelism roundtable in April 2004 called "Issues of Truth and Power: the Gospel in a Post-Christian Culture." Wheaton College president Duane Litfin responded to McLaren's presentation. Their presentations, summarized here, are just two of several to be included in a book that will be published next year by Graham Center director Lon Allison and InterVarsity evangelism specialist Rick Richardson.

Brian McLaren: The Broadened Gospel

For McLaren, the gospel is not primarily informational but relational/missional. That is, imparting information about how to be individually saved is secondary to inviting people into relationship with a king and with members of a kingdom whose foremost concern is wholeness for a broken world, rather than an insurance policy for eternal destiny.

The gospel, McLaren said, starts "with God's concern for the world, in which God creates a community called the church, comprised of persons who stop (or repent of) being 'part of the problem' and choose instead to join God as 'part of the solution'—thus simultaneously entering a mission and a community in which one is accepted by grace, through faith in Jesus."

Making absolute truth claims—so important to evangelism in the modern era—becomes problematic in the postmodern context. Instead, he said, we can focus on recruiting people who follow Jesus by faith (without claims of certainty or absolute knowledge) with the goal of being transformed and participating in the transformation of the world. "Our lack of example in speech, behavior, love, faith, and purity may also explain why we must rely ...

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November 2004

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