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The Gospel in Contexts

Religious and secular audiences require very different approaches.

What hath Athens to do with Jerusalem?"

Tertullian's famous question has remained relevant through the years as the church has grappled with how to respond to the pagan academy. As someone who has spent most of his life in "Athens" (most recently near Yale University), I now find myself in a sort of "Jerusalem." Four years ago, I moved to a "Jerusalem," a culturally Christian environment (across the street from Wheaton College).

That journey has afforded me the opportunity to compare the experience of communicating the gospel in two distinct contexts.

You might assume living in a place with few fellow Christians would be difficult, and in some ways it is. But it also has a sharpening effect. Being forced to rely upon God in a hostile envi-ronment, to trust him for answers to the most troubling intellectual assaults, either buoys you up or sinks you. In a more religious context you may be less likely to sink, but complacency is sometimes just as great a danger.

A secular atmosphere presents ...

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