God is a covenant keeping God. He makes covenant with us through Jesus Christ (Jn 3:16). Covenant Renewal as a means of God’s Redemption At Christ’s Expense (GRACE) is basically a Christian worldview, missional, and eschatological.[1] Covenant renewal through divine counsel, holy confession, and covenant living is a call to accept the relationship with Jesus Christ and then seek to obey Him in view of God’s eternal plans and promises. At the heart of Methodists’ devotion and discipleship, and dedication in working for social justice is the celebration of the Covenant service on the first Sunday of the year.[2] The idea of covenant by John Wesley, co-founder of Methodist movement was based on a personal and corporate relationship with God like a marriage, on the one side and God in Christ on the other. Indeed, in Covenant renewal, all are welcome, but Wesley also recognised the need for people to personally grow in relationship with God. Wesley’s original Covenant Prayer that ‘involved taking Christ as “my Head and Husband, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, for all times and conditions, to love, honour and obey thee before all other, and this to the death” calls for a return to a basic Christian means of grace in Jesus Christ.

The strength, decline or weakness of any church or nation begins at the home of the people. Just as the strength of the peoples’ home is in the obedience of the husband, wife and children to God’s eternal plan and purpose, the weakness and decline of the peoples’ home is in the disobedience to God’s eternal plan and purpose (Gen 1-3). Renewal for ‘post-Christian church’ and nations begins at home. Covenant renewal is therefore a call to transformation that invites us to ‘continually seek and pray to grow in holiness,’ working and walking with the Lord in the light of His Word rather than rewriting and undermining the means of grace and Christian worldviews.

Covenant renewal reminds us that Christians need to learn or re-learn how to remain faithful to God and His commands. The meaning and creative purposes for the fundamental societal institution especially marriage, home, family, church and leadership are taken from a basic Christian worldview shaped by Protestantism. The problem today is that, the basic Christian worldviews are going through a rewriting and redefinition of their status, which undermines their traditional outlook. Covenant renewal counters the ‘nostalgic attitudes toward a status quo somewhat marked by Christianity’ that ‘will not serve the cause of the gospel.’ Covenant renewal counters ‘being a stakeholder of the sacred alliance between the altar (pulpit) and the throne (power).’ Truly, the love of the world is inconsistent with the service of God.

‘Post-Christian church,’ nations, leadership, and theologies points to the cultural changes that have cumulated in the post-Truth culture,[3] practices and decline of the church. ‘Post-Christian church’ and nations beyond the evolution of the postmodern are ‘the blending of both modernism and postmodernism and postmodernism into a new anti-Christian posture.’ The post-conditions raises the question of shifts in the beliefs and values that are commonly termed scriptural, holy and religious. “Post-Christian” points to ‘an aggregate of all forms of present-day alternative worldviews to the Christian one.’ The emergence of ‘post-Christian church,’ nations, leadership, and theologies against the Christian deep Biblical authority and structure are human attempts to address society on it own terms. The argument is that ‘Christian theology is no longer able to adequately engage a post-Christian society, understood as a society that has largely discarded the Christian faith.’ Today, the church is asleep and no longer counter-culture, hence the emergence of post-Christian nations.[4] It was the assumption of the widespread demise of traditional Christian belief that developed in the 1960s to the death of God theologies, and the negative missional implications of these modern theologies remains till date. Today, it is difficult to distinguish between postmodern and post-Christian theologies, hence Covenant renewal for post-Christian church and nations suggests the need for a missional renewal of the church and its leadership.

Rodney Clapp[5] argues that the church has not only lost its influential role as the sponsor of Western civilization, but that the church’s sponsorship is no longer wanted. Clapp’s basis of argument is that ‘Christians feel increasingly useless … not because we have nothing to offer a post-Christian society, but because we are trying to serve as “sponsoring chaplains” to a civilization that no longer sees Christianity as necessary to its existence.’ Covenant renewal for a post-Christian church and theology is to restore the health and vitality of the church so as to remain faithful, a missional option for people in the post-Christian society. Covenant renewal empowers the church to be a counter-culture, ‘a community of friends, which challenges secular political power through its radical otherness.’

The first conference of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam held in August 1948 used the phrase, ‘post-Christian era’ to diagnose the Christian church nearing its decline. Karl Barth at the assembly declared, “How do we come to adopt as self-evident the phrase first used by a German National Socialist, that we are today living in an ‘un-Christian’ or even ‘post-Christian’ era? … How indeed do we come to the fantastic opinion that secularism and godlessness are inventions of our time; that there was once a glorious Christian Middle Age with a generally accepted Christian faith, and it is now our task to set up this wonderful state of affairs again in new form?” Martin Niemöller also at the Amsterdam conference explained that the church ‘… already talk about a “post-Christian age,” in which we live and see the Christian church nearing its decline.’ Gene Veith in his book, Post-Christian: A Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture aptly explained that post-Christian as ‘the blending of modernism and post-modernism into a new anti-Christian posture. According to him, “Modernism with its scientific materialism and trust in evolutionary progress is post-Christian. So is postmodernism with its relativistic mindset.”[6]

The adoption and usage of ‘Post-Christian age’ was on ‘a fairly wide scale by Christian theologians and church leaders who worried about the advance of anti Christian forces in European societies.’ The ‘post’ in ‘post-Christian church’ and nations is not just a marker of critical dissociation but a setting aside of the Christian faith and an entrance into a post-Christian era. The proliferation of multiple post-terms – post-colonial, postmodern among others points to the changes and shifts, current situations ‘having gone beyond the old, without being able to name the new.’ For example, post-colonial is a shift in the colonial attitude, the belief in the racial superiority of one colour above others.

Our contemporary moment under different rubrics of cultural captivities[7] including post-Christian culture, post-Christian society, post-Christian ethics, and post-Christian values calls for Covenant renewal not just a sentimental liturgy or routine to capitulate to the way things are. Covenant renewal for post-Christian church and leadership are not just an attempt ‘to retrench in an effort to regain power and influence as the sponsor of Western civilization.’ Using the words of Clapp, Covenant renewal for post-Christian church and theology invites us to repent in order ‘to reclaim our heritage as a peculiar people, as unapologetic followers of the Way. Within the larger pluralistic world, we need to become a sanctified, subversive culture that develops Christian community as a truly alternative way of life.’ Covenant renewal for post-Christian church, nations, leadership, and theology humbles us to learn to live the Christian story and not just to act or to restate it.

Covenant renewal for post-Christian church and nations is about giving our lives and choices to God and not making or dictating our choices to God. Covenant renewal for post-Christian church and nations is an invitation for people to renew their covenant relationship with God and not dictating our terms and conditions to God. Covenant renewal for post-Christian church and nations is about opening ourselves to God more fully and not hiding under the fig tree of our wealth, theology, pride and sinful desires. Covenant renewal for post-Christian church and nations first as a personal act is also a corporate act of the whole faith community. Covenant renewal for post-Christian church and nations toward an ever-growing biblical fidelity is made on earth and it is ‘ratified in heaven’ and this is beyond human rewriting or redefinition. Covenant renewal points us to Jesus Christ as the ONLY one who offers the final and definite sacrifice which reconciles Divinity with humanity. Our Covenant renewal and salvation is in Jesus Christ. Using the words Mike Oye, ‘as the times and years passes, we draw closer and closer to either HEAVEN or HELL. There is a destiny of choice. Where will you spend ETERNITY?’ To gain ETERNITY with Jesus, you need to confess Him as your Lord and Saviour. Let us prayerfully sing the hymn by Charles Wesley:

1. O thou who camest from above
the fire celestial to impart,
kindle a flame of sacred love
on the mean altar of my heart!

2 There let it for thy glory burn
with inextinguishable blaze,
and trembling to its source return
in humble prayer and fervent praise.

3 Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire
to work, and speak, and think for thee;
still let me guard the holy fire,
and still stir up the gift in me.

4 Ready for all thy perfect will,
my acts of faith and love repeat;
till death thy endless mercies seal,
and make the sacrifice complete.

[1] https://www.rootsontheweb.com/content/PDFs/346041/Methodist_Covenant_Prayer_study.pdf

[2] https://www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/the-methodist-church/what-is-distinctive-about-methodism/a-covenant-with-god/the-covenant-service/

[3] Pearcey, Nancy, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and other God substitutes (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2015), pp.53-74

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/27/britain-post-christian-ex-archbishop-canterbury-williams

[5] Clapp, Rodney, A Peculiar People: The Church as Culture in a Post-Christian Society (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1996), pp. bp, 3-11

[6] Gene Veith cited in ‘Post-Christianity Is an Opportunity for Real Christianity,’ – Leonardo De Chirico https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/post-christianity/

[7] Pearcey, Nancy, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton, Ill, Crossway Books, 2005), pp. 351-378, 153 – 157, 123-132.