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Allegiance, Truth and Power: Three crucial dimensions for Christian living

 

Power Dimension

Primary concern: Freedom

The power in focus here is spiritual power (not political, personal, or something else).

This dimension recognizes that humans are held captive by Satan

Jesus worked in the power of the Holy Spirit to set captives free (Lk 4:18, 19)—He did nothing under the power of His own divinity (Phil 2:5-8)

Jesus passed this power on to His followers (Lk 9:1; Jn 14:12; Ac 1:4-8)

Satanic power must be defeated with God’s power (it cannot be defeated simply with truth or a correct allegiance, though these help)

Under this dimension, the church is experienced as both a hospital where wounds are healed, thus freeing people, and an army that attacks the enemy, defeating him both at ground level and at cosmic level

Awareness of the power dimensions of Christianity needs to be taught both cognitively and, especially, experientially (as Jesus did)

Theology is experienced as victory in warfare resulting in freedom to relate and think

Ways in Which The Dimensions Function Together

All three dimensions are present in every activity of God in the human sphere. If a given relational interaction with humans is from God, it will involve the power and love of the true God in operation. Any teaching of God’s truth, furthermore, will involve the power of God with the aim of bringing about growth in relationship with God. In contrast, whenever the enemy’s power is active, it is a counterfeit power rather than a godly power, and is designed to lead people into a wrong allegiance.

I have spoken above of the frequent need for God’s power to be in operation before people can understand enough to pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ. It is the power of God engaged through prayer, then, that enables us to grow stronger in our commitment to Christ and in our knowledge of His truth. Likewise, it is prayer-power that enables us to minister to others the truth that leads to Christian commitment.

As indicated above, I suggest a threefold approach to bringing people into church membership. What is usually done is simply to increase the potential member’s knowledge and to make sure that they have experienced a conversion to Christ. These ought to happen, but much more needs to be done for most people if they are to experience freedom through the healing and delivering power of Christ and to grow in their relationship with Christ.

I have no statistics to prove it, but if my experience in ministering to hundreds of hurting Christians is any indication, I suspect that a high percentage of church members (and church leaders) are in great need of healing from deep emotional hurts and from demons. Such a condition is crippling our churches. An approach to these problems that focuses as much on spiritual freedom and relationship as it usually does on truth and knowledge could revolutionize Christian experience and expression.

 

PR 

 

Notes

1 Cf. “What Kind of Encounters Do We Need In Our Christian Witness?” EMQ 27: 258-265, and “Allegiance, Truth and Power Encounters in Christian Witness” in Pentecost, Mission and Ecumenism: Essays on Intercultural Theology, Jan A. B. Jongeneel, ed., Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 215-230.

 

References

Kraft, Charles H. ed, Appropriate Christianity, Pasadena, CA: Wm Carey Library, 2002.

Tippett. A.R., People Movements in Southern Polynesia. Chicago: Moody Press, 1971.

 

 

This excerpt is an adaptation of “Contextualization in Three Crucial Dimensions” of which a previous version was published in Appropriate Christianity (2002).

 

Further Reading

To read the full chapter, “Contextualization in Three Crucial Dimensions” in Appropriate Christianity (2002), go to: books.google.com/books?id=RysiXCZ7JJgC&pg=PA99

 

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Category: Fall 2010, Living the Faith

About the Author: Charles H. Kraft, Ph.D. (Hartford Seminary Foundation), is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Intercultural Communication, Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, California). He has served as a missionary in Nigeria, and professor of African languages at Michigan State University and UCLA. He has published widely both in missiology and in African linguistics, and his books include Christianity in Culture (1979 and revised 2005), Worldview for Christian Witness (2008), and The Evangelical's Guide to Spiritual Warfare: Scriptural Insights and Practical Instruction on Facing the Enemy (Chosen, Feb 2015). His ministry website is www.heartssetfree.org.

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