As a young Christian, I was torn between bafflement, amusement and embarrassment when the good old King James Version was read aloud in church, and we heard Paul telling the Philippians that he longed after them “in the bowels of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:8). I mean, it almost sounds blasphemous, doesn’t it? Or, at the very least, an invasion of privacy. Did we really need to hear that in church? And then a bit later on in the same letter, Paul is at it again: “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies …” (Phil 2:1).
Let me introduce Albert. Albert calls himself a post-evangelical. He says there are many good things about the evangelical church in which he grew up, but he himself has grown out of evangelicalism’s narrowness. Like his postmodern friends, he is wary of truth claims and instead he wants to emphasize symbols and images. This makes him much more comfortable with social involvement than evangelism. Evangelism makes him uneasy because, as he puts it, ‘we are all on a faith journey’ and he thinks that evangelism among the poor is simply manipulative. His catchphrase is ‘don’t force your truth on others’. Instead we should walk with the poor, care for them and help them on their faith journey while expecting them to enrich our own faith journeys.