Billy Abraham on engaging the culture

Here’s a video I had not seen before about ways the church could and should engage the world. His talk has three section: the unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ, the changing culture of North America, and engaging that changing culture with the unchanging gospel.

About 18-19 minutes in he has this interesting claim: We should no longer accept the claim that we United Methodists are an American mainline church.

*Note: He gets  Kenda Creasy Dean’s school affiliation wrong. She is at Princeton.

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9 thoughts on “Billy Abraham on engaging the culture

  1. Outside of his comments on gay marriage, I’m not sure that what he says is all that different from Rachel Held Evans. The most important point I see implicit in both conversations (although I think Abraham makes it much better than RHE) is that our people may not know the doctrine, but you can’t teach it to them if they are not there.

    1. Good observation. I did not try to make that connection. I do not know her views on engaging Islam or his other issues.

      1. True. I don’t know her views on that, either. I should have limited my observation to the mutual discussion about membership & discipleship facing the church.

  2. “We should no longer accept the claim that we United Methodists are an American mainline church.” I don’t have time to watch the video but I’ll say amen to that.

  3. Thanks for posting this video, John. I’ll look forward to watching it. Dr. Abraham is one of the most engaging speakers in the UMC. (His writing always strikes me similarly.) If you haven’t read any of his material on canonical theism, you ought to check it out. It intersects with a great number of issues that the church needs to engage more creatively: epistemology, sacramental theology, ecumenism, etc.

    1. I have read Canon and Criterion and his little book on the Bible, which is clearly in the same vein.

  4. Canon and Criterion is the major work. A few years after it came out, he and a group of his students collaborated on a book that I think is simply called “Canonical Theism.” As with any multi-author work, some chapters are stronger than others. But there are some very good essays in it. Part of the reason I am interested in his proposals along those lines is the way he is conceiving of the means of grace, which is clearly Wesleyan in tone but goes beyond what Wesley meant by the means of grace. I’ve spoken with Abraham a little bit on this; I hope he and his students continue to pursue this project as I think it can bear further fruit. (And part of the reason it is interesting to me, frankly, is that it is a very different approach to dealing with Enlightenment challenges to epistemology than I encountered at Duke–which makes it intellectually fascinating to me.)

    1. My understanding is that canonical theism as a movement has lost a good deal of its momentum. Jason Vickers and David Watson at United are both doing some work in that vein, but I don’t think there is the same kind of “program” that was initially envisaged.

      I agree that it is an intriguing approach.

      I’ve long had that Canonical Theism book in my Amazon basket, but always had more pressing things to buy.

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