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Witnessing in Our
Not So Brave New World

Abstract: Many of the new ideas espoused by society are based on untested suppositions, and it easily falls prey to the next faddish thing—often promoted AND accepted for self-serving reasons, only to discover, sometimes years later, that the latest fad was ONLY A FAD.

Our "Not So Brave" New World

I will be going on a mission trip to Cambodia in February to speak at their camp meeting. In preparation, I have been getting all the vaccinations required to hopefully inoculate me against catching diseases while traveling.

I wish there were a vaccine we could take AND share with others, against the many, often crazy, sometimes truly bizarre, ideas that abound about life and the future. Sadly, many of the new ideas espoused by the world are based on untested suppositions, and society easily falls prey to these faddish ideas—often promoted AND accepted for self-serving reasons, only to later discover that the latest fad was ONLY A FAD.

These varying world views, at least so far as the west is concerned, originated with the pagan and Hellenistically-influenced, pre-modern, obsession with appeasing the various gods which were disinterested in human beings; eventually transitioned to the modern rationalistic era when science was king and everyone looked for a rosy future; then on to the post modern era when disappointed expectations brought a return to experience-based, self-centered, understandings that seemed devoid of former moorings, including an emerging deconstructionist phase when all past norms are being deconstructed in favor of new, highly individualistic, self-serving, norms—though it is hard to use the word “norm” in post modern thinking. Please note there is a somewhat similar, but not identical, progression when it comes to spirituality.

All of this is symptomatic of humankind’s ongoing profound loss of hope, and the attendant vulnerability to the next “answer” promulgated by particularly skilled, well networked, communicators who strongly suggest their way is finally THE WAY.

It’s hard to give credence to some of these ideas, and we might laugh if so many thinking people did not buy into them. But since the suppositions can’t be tested, come with promises that strongly cater to human desires, are strongly defended, and must await the test of time, the ideas are being accepted.

Of course their acceptance requires what seems to me a mind boggling leap of faith—though one wonders if there is perhaps a tacit realization that they are empty promises, but MORE SATISFYING and self-serving in the short-term empty promises, and thus to be accepted to obtain the short-term objective regardless of what may seem absurd to some of us.

In dialoging with adherents, it accordingly often comes down to our opinion against their opinion on what is real for the time being—tough to predict what only time will reveal—and what is worthy of our hope, and we aren’t making much progress.

Now, I’m not gratuitously railing against what some modern thought leaders are propounding, only suggesting that our witnessing will undoubtedly have to take these new ways of thinking into account.

Neither am I questioning the sincerity of the adherents who have bought into the ideas in their own quest for something better--after all, we have all had our "moments" when thoughtful deliberation might have spared us pain and embarrassment.

How do we dialog with people who buy into these ideas?

For starters, respectful questions, asked in the context of caring relationships, might prove helpful. For example “What is truth?” “How does one discover truth?” “How does one evaluate truth?” Being more personal, "How did you come to believe this?" "Why did you come to believe this?" “How can your ideas be tested?” “If your ideas were not true, would you want to know?” Or “Do you know anything about the prior history of these ideas and the people promoting them?” These kind of questions could pave the way for meaningful interactions?

We live in a “not so brave” new--or was that old--and rapidly deteriorating world, and the answers being given are finding acceptance in the absence of BETTER answers, the truth of which will be proven in human experience—your experience and mine.

So what are we to do?

Believe and live out our faith in respectful, consistent and confident ways.

Learn enough about what is being embraced in the culture around us to enter into their conversations--what may seem absurd to our unexposed way of thinking, with knowledge, may seem less absurd, and will enable respectful interactions.

Learn how to respond. And then pray for God’s divine appointments to share our reasons for being hopeful.

Unfortunately, there is no easy vaccination to be found, but we have the opportunity to be God’s vaccinating agents, treasures in earthen vessels, conveying truth in human flesh—through Christ’s indwelling—much like Jesus did when He came to earth. I hope we will accept the challenge of our day.

We will consider living out our faith in this “not so brave” new world in the next couple of essays.

Happy witnessing!
Dan
12/23/2007

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