The separationist impulse of some pietist Christians denudes the world of salt (as Jesus put it). It is also the case that separationism produces a ghetto of peculiar people with enormous potential for egregious behaviour. So one might say that separationism is often anti-relational and prone to too much navel-gazing about sanctification that it short-circuits any effective participation in the Missio Dei.
Which brought up for me once again one of the areas where I struggle which is with those for whom doctrinal purity overwhelms any effective enagement in mission, not so much because they don’t try, but because they don’t connect. Anything which, to them would be compromise, leaves you perceived as one who denies The Truth. But I love The Truth – The Truth is Jesus.
It’s been said that people today are less concerned with ‘Is it true’ and more concerned with ‘Does it work’. My feeling is that most people are actually asking (implicitly) the much more existential question, ‘Is it real?’ as in ‘Could it be real for me?’ If the gospels are true (!) Christ offers us all three – application (it works), truth and reality, or, to put it in a more familiar form, the way, the truth and the life.
Ultimately, we want people to encounter Christ in all three areas; the satisfaction of living God’s way and finding it is the best, a philosophical and intellectual assurance of the truth, and a personal, transforming experience of the reality of God. Whilst, previously, our approach has been dominated by the appeal to truth (apologetics and the like) is it not reasonable, missiologically, to appeal to the reality of a life lived with Christ and to the experience of the Holy Spirit? It’s what I need more of. And I suspect it’s what many people are looking for.