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Can We Talk?: Sharing Your Faith in a Pre-Christian World [Secure eReader]
eBook by Robert Tuttle

eBook Category: Spiritual/Religion
eBook Description: Those who serve on mission fields in areas where Christian faith is not the dominant religion quickly come to understand a central truth: when one is sharing the gospel, one must have a place to start the conversation. If the person being addressed is unfamiliar with Christian concepts and terms, one must pick up on things with which he or she is familiar, and relate these to the Christian message. Without this middle ground, there can be no effective witness to God's salvation in Christ. Everyone who shares the good news today, Robert Tuttle points out, would do well to learn this basic truth for communicating the gospel. While the Christian message is universal--intended for all persons, everywhere--the language we use to convey this message may not be. The key is always to be sensitive to the deep questions with which one's friends and acquaintances are struggling, and to look for ways to relate the life-changing message of the gospel to these questions.
Key Features: Lively and direct writing style that offers a clear, user-friendly guide to sharing one's personal faith. Illustrations and examples are drawn from both the North American context and the context outside North America. Focused on the crucial and difficult task of communication the gospel to persons who have not grown up with the language and symbolism of the church.
Key Benefits: The reader will understand that efforts to communicate the gospel to persons unfamiliar with the terminology and concepts must first identify a common middle ground from which to begin and how to indentify that middle ground. The reader will learn the basic tools for communicating the gospel. The reader will learn for deep questions and will learn how to relate the life-changing message of the gospel to those questions.

eBook Publisher: United Methodist Publishing House/Abingdon Press, Published: 2002
Fictionwise Release Date: May 2003


It was obvious that I was getting nowhere in a conversation at a dinner party with a new acquaintance who had made an honest inquiry regarding my faith in Jesus Christ. I blushed as I finally asked somewhat tentatively, "Are we communicating?"

The response I received was not totally unexpected, "I'm terribly sorry, but I don't have a clue what you are talking about." Admittedly, this person was unchurched, with little exposure to Christianity, but this was not a hostile environment. The man was open and friendly. I was in my own town among some of my closest friends. I simply was not communicating. Much of the terminology that had been effective for years was no longer working. Theology that seems to be irrelevant is, in fact, irrelevant. Then, after several similar experiences, I decided it was time to do some serious retooling. This book is a result of that attempt.

For several years now I've been most concerned with communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ in cross-cultural settings. I have traveled the world looking for a gospel that was transcultural in its appeal. Imagine my surprise when I realized that "cross-cultural" is no longer just across some international border. It is across the street, even across the dinner table, sometimes in my own home. Almost ten years ago a news magazine announced that in the twenty-first century, racial and ethnic groups will outnumber whites in America for the first time. Furthermore, immigrant groups bring with them their native languages and customs. Their children attend the public schools and add cultural richness, but they also challenge the school systems with their educational needs. In one elementary school in New York City, the children represent families where any one of twenty-six different languages, from Armenian to Urdu, is spoken at home. On our good days, we live in a society that is diverse in that it is pluralistic, multiethnic, and multicultural. On our bad days, we live in a society that is not only secular but perverse and openly pagan. Most communicators are now willing to affirm that fact, but few, as yet, are ready to face its implications.

The so-called postmodern world is more than a fad phrase. It describes a mind-set (even in the West) oblivious to many of the more traditional approaches bent on logic and reason in the presentation of the gospel. George Hunter in Church for the Unchurched (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996) writes that "modernity has not fulfilled most of its promises, and so the Enlightenment worldview has become increasingly vulnerable" (p. 22). Modernity (dated roughly from the fall of the Bastille in 1789 to the disintegration of the Soviet Union two centuries later) did not produce a rational basis for consensus morality. In fact, there seems to be little or no consensus in any field of endeavor. There is even a "high" and "low" postmodernity. Communication in terms of low postmodernity relates to life on the streets. It attempts to describe how things are, but has a difficult time articulating this. Discussions of high postmodernity are relatively articulate but have few (if any) certainties. For many of my postmodern friends, convictions are out: convictions are okay for me, but don't let my convictions impinge on them. They rejoice in differences. No single source has all the answers. There is no reality, no absolute, until they own it. Some umpires call 'em the way they see 'em. Some call 'em the way they are. Postmodern thought is adamant: they ain't nothin' till I call 'em. Postmodern thinkers are so obsessed with the past (for example, the musical Grease is a '90s remake of a '70s musical recollection of a '50s musical phenomenon) that they have a difficult time grasping the future. It can become superficial to them. I'm reminded of a Tokyo Santa Claus nailed to a cross. Postmodernism wants to sample everything. It is ten miles wide and half an inch deep. Remember Robinson Crusoe's goat fence? The fenced-in area was so wide that the goats on the inside of the fence were just as wild as the goats on the outside of the fence.

In an increasingly secular world, there seems to be no firm place to stand in order to begin an appeal. The significant cultural changes that used to take thirty to forty years now take less than five. Most students now entering college have never seen a black and white TV. To them, the host of The Tonight Show has always been Jay Leno. Change is all around us. Yet, for all its challenges, postmodernism still gives spirituality a place at the table. Suddenly I realized that the research I had amassed for other cultures was just as relevant for my own. I began to ask some serious questions.

Copyright © 1999 by Abingdon Press

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