3: Our spiritual transformation problems

By Robin SchumacherLack of spiritual transformation makes Christianity look weak and worthless.While there is much debate in the Church on a variety of topics such as how the second coming of Christ will actually occur, on this matter, there seems to be universal agreement. Both Emerging Church leaders and conservative Christian scholars (who normally differ on many doctrinal subjects) both say that the Church needs to reflect the story found throughout Scripture in its everyday practices. Non-believers do not want a religious version of what they can already get at the mall, but instead they are searching for the mysterious practices of the ancient gospel, which means that the Church’s storytelling should be supported by its story living.In addition to being unified in the cry for more personal and biblical authenticity, conservative theologians also agree that while evangelism needs to be truth-centered, it must also be person-sensitive and culturally active. Evangelical leaders point out that God does not merely speak truth to isolated, autonomous individuals, but rather to a redeemed people who form a vibrant and attractive community.This means that mere apologetic and evangelistic propositions are not enough. Instead, Christian leaders say that the Church should enter into a covenantal relation of truth: one where words, thoughts, and deeds conform to the image of the One who is the truth incarnate. Only then will the Church exhibit spiritual transformation that is authentic and attractive. Only then will the Church have a practical, transformative, and relational truth, which ultimately results in what theology professor Kevin Vanhoozer calls a “hermeneutic of activation”.Without such a thing, Christianity will be consistently judged with failing the test of existential relevancy. Unfortunately, such a verdict is rendered all the time and in many ways. Famed Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias says the one question that has haunted him the most throughout his ministry was asked by a Hindu acquaintance: “If this conversion you speak about is truly supernatural, then why is it not more evident in the lives of so many Christians that I know?” In other words, a God who is said to transform should produce people with transformed lives.This apparently very visible missing element in the Church today has been pointed out by famous atheists such as Frederick Nietzsche who once remarked, “I’ll believe in the Redeemer when the Christians look a little more redeemed” and Karl Marx who turned away from religion when he saw his Jewish father abandon their faith in favor of joining the Lutheran church simply to help his business grow.Unless we exhibit spiritual transformation that looks (and is) real, the world will see us as hypocrites. Maybe we are.

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