Having joined the Anglican Church as a potential member of the clergy I went to Oxford where a whole new theological language revealed itself to me. I was, when I arrived, 'a Christian' which I was soon to learn can mean a host of different things to different people (particularly the clever people). When I then arrived in Richmond I was advised that my deanery was ...'largely liberal Catholic.....' and I think it was assumed that I knew what that meant. Now, of course, after Oxford, I sort of know but then I asked "Really do I?" Since then, I have been quietly reading and exploring why it is that when you/ I say you/I believe in the atonement, the bible, the gifts of the spirit, conversion, mission and many other seemingly orthodox things people who should share this belief sometimes don't. I have found 'A generous orthodoxy' very helpful in giving me insight in to this together with Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster.
I think most people want to know what a Christian believes and what the bible says. They may not agree with it or it may grate with their post-modern sensibilities, but if those tasked with communicating the biblical reality of the gospel try to soft soap the message to make it cuddly and nice then this can, and sometimes will, end up not being very cuddly and nice and loving at all.
I love this quote from a recent episode of ER which illustrates this problem so well.
"I want a real chaplain who believes in a real God and a real hell! ....I need answers!!”
Want some answers? Read the chapter in Tim Keller's 'The Reason for God" called "How can a loving God send People to Hell"
Now watch this.....