- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 2 hours and 39 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Zondervan
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 22 Dec. 2009
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0031SXUBE
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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An Agenda for Change: A Global Call for Spiritual and Social Transformation Audiobook – Unabridged
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In the front matter of the book Edwards writes:
In brief my argument is this: biblical witness is not called to tip-toe through the twenty-first century. It is meant to transform society. It will do so by presenting Christ credibly to the culture. For evangelicals this means reclaiming the idea that we are good news, called to a long-term vision for spiritual and social change. (12)
What is immediately noticeable is the blending of the good news as both spiritually and societally transformative. They are interlinked and cannot be separated. The starting point can be found in the incarnation. "Transformation is the inevitable result of incarnation." (97) Building off that idea is that the scope of transformation, while it may start with individuals, is indeed society-wide. "But personal salvation is just the starting point." (100) Anything short of that reveals a short-circuit in the process. Salvation and the good news must change more than simply equating a higher number of people are sitting in church on Sundays. Also, this hope of the good news has legs and feet ...
Hope is a cow in a field; it's a fishing boar after a tsunami; it's a red tractor shared between several families. Hope is practical. It's God's way of saying that tomorrow is possible and that he is everybody's God." (102)
Though very short as a book, Edwards does a great job of packing it full of rich content. The book's brevity simply means he got to his point in a timely manner. I ended up reading it in about two sittings which was beneficial. I was able to really delve in to the book and trace how his arguments and thesis was fleshed out. Like I mentioned in the first paragraph, a key component is not only his ethnicity but his place of residence. Our lives our deeply enriched when we can read from those of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds. What happens is that it exposes us to different thought processes and even conclusions about the same topic which in this case is about the good news and spiritual and societal transformation. Perspective is everything.
It was most certainly a fun book to read. He challenged my thoughts and assumptions and has given me much to think through the past few days. I feel incredibly grateful to have come across this book.
Edwards discusses the history of the early church in that it was in the midst of a pagan society, hated and persecuted. Why did the early church grow? Because it was sold on Jesus and the people of the early church displayed a different lifestyle that attracted others.
The pluralistic, anti-Christian society we face today as Christians is similar to what the early church faced for the first 300 years. The church is much stronger when it is being challenged than when it being protected. In many ways the church ceased being different after AD 325 as it became a part of the culture, not different.
The first difference was the church's stand on Jesus. Recent surveys show that the average Christian does not believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation, but rather just one among many.
Rather than spend our time in religious bashing, we need to carrying out acts of kindness. Acts of kindness speak far louder than our loud clashing rhetoric.
If we speak for Jesus, then we need to speak to the issues Jesus addressed:
* Corruption in the religious world
* The mistreatment of children, especially infants
* The need to be servant leaders
* Jesus was a historical personality sent by God in a divine fashion--virgin birth
* Unique in forgiveness
* Concerned about the widow, orphan, and sinner
* Teaching, preaching, and discipling
* Performing of healings and exorcisms
The need to recognize the power of the Holy Spirit in our ministries
* Strange movements of the Spirit, especially as seen in the extreme in some areas of the Pentecostal movement. Edwards says miracles carry a lot of baggage with them, but we still need them (37).
* Evangelicals on the theological right who are unwilling to seriously pray even for healing.
Where the church is growing most rapidly is in Africa, South America, and Asia, and in all of these cases numerous miracles are being reported. Healing and miracles are a significant part of the ministry. Edwards says:
"The plain truth is that Christians who deny the place of miracles may wake up to find out that we are out of step with a contemporary culture growing weary with `reason', which changes nothing and no one." (39)
The problem of identifying evangelicals
The use of the term evangelical is used to cover extreme conservatives all the way to Roman Catholics and some Orthodox church leaders. Who is in and who is out?
* Establishing identity of evangelicals is difficult
* No individual evangelical group has the right to declare that it defines what an evangelical is.
* The truth should not be used to bludgeon others
* The truth should not be used to exclude others
* Evangelicals are not the final arbiters of the truth (those who make final judgments)
* Should be recognized by a commitment to the Bible and its authority in all matters of doctrine and ethics
* No single cultural interpretation should be allowed to dominate
* Orthodoxy is critical, but it is bigger than all of us. We are not appointed to be God's thought-police.
* God is not party-political
* Our evangelical status is not based on how we vote
Joel Edwards takes a simple 3-part approach to explaining the Christian's loss of credibility in today's society in a way that brings not defensiveness but a desire to take a self-assessment of our part in the discrediting of the gospel and evokes a desire to live transformed lives.
Jesus doesn't need flashy marketing and all the newest toys and gadgets and strategies to attract the crowds. There's plenty of mass marketing appeal for everything under the sun. What Jesus needs is for His followers to be real ... to live an unassuming, faithful, servant-oriented life that makes us stand out from the crowd. It's not how loud we can shout for Jesus - it's how quiet and transforming we can be for Jesus. It's not always about what we say - sometimes its about what we don't say!
I highly recommend An Agenda For Change ... but only if you really want to be the change!