On Tuesday I read Mark Driscoll's thought-provoking book The Radical Reformission. Driscoll is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington and a leader among younger evangelicals today. He is also one of the key-note speakers at next week's Desiring God National Conference, "Above All Earthly Powers: The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World."
Driscoll contends that as believers we must be concerned about three things: the gospel, the church, and the culture. When we neglect one of these three elements, we fall into one of three errors:
The Church + The Culture - The Gospel = Liberalism
The Church + The Gospel - The Culture = Fundamentalism
The Gospel + The Culture - The Church = Parachurch
I think this is slightly reductionistic, but it still provokes reflection. Driscoll's book is a plea for the church to be faithful to the gospel within the culture - not by isolating itself from the culture. He says, of course, that faithfulness to the gospel involves some measure of separation. As Christians, we are different - called out of darkness into light - and this will affect our life-styles and ethics. But Driscoll also contends that Christian liberty must be maintained in areas where Scripture is silent - and that our liberty should be used for the sake of reaching culture.
Of course, culture looks different in Seattle than it does in the Midwest, where I minister. Driscoll's church looks different than ours, with lots of tattooed, pierced, young Christians decked out in Gothic clothing and make-up! But Driscoll rightly argues that becoming a Christian doesn't necessitate a conversion to wearing business attire (like a middle-class, white suburban American Christian), but rather a conversion to Christ and His kingdom. As I said, this is a thought-provoking book (and one that I recommend). Be warned, however: reading this book will probably provoke a variety of deep and intense emotional responses, including laughter (Driscoll is hilarious), shock (Driscoll breaks all the conventions that you would expect of a Christian author, and sometimes probably goes too far), and (hopefully) excitement, as you hear of what God has done in his life and through his life and ministry in the lives of others.