September 22nd, 2010 | Published in Three Worlds Diary
The biggest reason why we named our team and website “Three Worlds” is because we want to help churches and people understand that Christianity is operating in three very distinct theological worlds. The first is the Traditional World, which most of us grew up in—the church with the steeple, hymns (or praise choruses), and preaching with a lot of certainty about doctrine. The traditional church is in steep decline in most parts of the world. In the traditional world, even non-Christians understood what a church was and had a certain amount of respect for the institution.
The second world is the Post-Christendom World (like here in Europe) is a world that is deeply skeptical of organized religion. It is a place that is highly secular or in which faith should be a private matter. It’s a world that views truth as relative and is skeptical of people with easy answers. The institutional church can barely function in these places. As a response to that, we are seeing the growth of the emerging/missional movement, which strips down as many of the institutional trappings of Christianity as it can—and makes it a point to embed itself in the secular world. This segment of the church is growing–most notably in America where many churches (particularly lead by people under 45) are configuring themselves in this way.
The Third World of Christianity is the world of Non-Western Christianity. This is the Christianity you find in China, Brazil, and the Middle East. It is very fast growing (390 million Christians now in Africa, 120 million in China). It is not rooted in the assumptions of Western philosophy or Western Christendom. It is a supernatural faith, it takes the Bible very literally, and it is often both socially conservative (strongly against homosexuality for instance) and socially active–engaging the poor and persecuted.
Here at Three Worlds we engage all three. That’s because all three exist in our region. They also all exist in the United States now. And in my latest book Mosaic, I visit a church in Los Angeles that has all three in one church! Not only do we work in all 3 realms, but we also want to be a source of information and processing for these churches. That means that here at Three-Worlds.com, we will discuss these three worlds and help them understand each other. And we will also critique the three worlds.
In upcoming episodes of Gateway Berlin Radio, and here at the diary, we will talk about these issues and flesh them out. Each world is tempted to dismiss the other as heretical. But the reality is that each one is speaking to particular cultures in which Christianity operates. Are there dangers? Sure, and we’ll discuss those on the podcast and in the diary.
I begin by posting this video which portrays the Traditional Church as uptight and the post-Christendom missional church as more laid back. They are in therapy together trying to understand each other. So this is what we will do as well. Discuss the differences and try to understand each other and where Christianity is headed.