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Suggested preface of a coming position paer or document
Aug 25, 2004

Suggested Preface

There is in the post-modern western world a growing sense of the need to have some spiritual orientation in life. At the same time this quest for spirituality is uncomfortable with institutionalised religion as well with scientific reductionism and the materialistic and consumerist tenets of society. This quest has lead many westerners to adopt practices and worldview from other religious and spiritual traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism as well as from the pagan past of Europe and from shamanism. In 1980 the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization published “The Thailand Report on New Religious Movements”. The important insight of the document was to meet “mystics and cultists” as unreached people groups deserving of cross-cultural missions. We are grateful to our predecessors for communicating this. This insight is still to be appreciated generally among evangelical Christians and acted upon in the actual meeting with spiritual seekers and participants in the new spiritual and holistic movements, sometimes popularly called New Age. In the ongoing debate on this faith encounter between Christians and the new spiritualities we are suggesting to take side in the debate for a critical incarnational approach. We call for a reconsidering of Christian apologetics towards the new religious movements and the alternative spiritualities, based on a balanced understanding of the spiritual quest. We are curious for what the Church may learn from the meeting with these spiritualities, and this document will share some of what we found. We look for ways of contextualizing the Gospel within this quest, and we will share experiences from all over the world. The model for meeting the people of the new spiritual quest we find with Paul in Athens witnessing to the Greeks (Acts 17), and in his words: “I am a free man and own no master; but I have made myself every man’s servant, to win as many as possible. To Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; as they are subject to the Law of Moses, I put myself under that law to win them although I am not myself subject to it. To win Gentiles, who are outside the Law, I made myself like one of them, although I am not in truth outside God’s law, being under the Law of Christ. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. Indeed, I have become everything in turn to men of very sort, so that in one way or another I may save some. All this I do for the sake of the Gospel, to bear my part in proclaiming it.” (1. Cor. 9.19-23)