I just finished reading CT last night and loved the article by Tim Stafford, "This Samaritan Life". This article has much to do with the dialogue we are having on being witnesses of Jesus (Acts sermon series) on Sunday mornings. Stafford’s thesis is that we live in a Samaria like culture where Christians and non . . . are familiar with what each other believes but our starting point with each other is suspicion. I found his comments on how we tend to respond to this interesting and worthy of reflection.
"We tend to respond by keeping quiet, by assimilating, or by throwing down the gauntlet. All three options tend to shut down discussion and to limit our opportunity to be salt and light." (CT, Feb 2008, page 49)
How do we talk about Jesus in this kind of world? I confess there are times I wonder if we live more in Babylon "a place where what you believe or how you worship is of little significance . . . so long as you keep the peace and contribute to civic life" (page 47). Samaria is probably more the norm for my social interaction. I concur with Stafford (quoting Keller) that dialogue about Jesus in this kind of culture requires more personal conversation, open discussion (less superiority and much more humility), creative language more than classic arguments, and a love for the long haul outlook.
In a postmodern world where tolerance means affirming all differences as equally valuable, reasoned arguments are not the main means of witness. James words ring true in our world – faith without words is dead.