Despite all the rumors … I am still alive. But I have faltered on my Blog-olution (Blog regularly, minimum weekly) Getting back on track, though and won’t bore you with the details of the why’s?
FOG – Friday!
It is an inevitable reality that each generation must wrestle through the definitions of theology. Call it a precursor to faith, or an affirming, seeking or longing to know what is truly true, but all people for all times have had to wrestle with the greater God questions, individually and as collective communities (here is the answer to the WHY? we do this-Romans 1:19-21; 2:4, 14-16). Our NOW Christian community is no different. Have you been in a Christian book store, grocery store, Wal-mart lately and looked at the latest offerings for “Functional Christian Theology”? It seems to me that for most of what our generation of church is producing for Christian Theology it is rooted deeper in the functional than in the Theology.
Before you write me off as a ranting old fundamentalist who’s Christianity has created the fenced in ‘projects’ of disengaged religious community, that tends to smell like the Pharisees who screamed, “Kill Jesus!”, let’s talk FUNCTION! I am purposing to write an on-going Friday Blog dedicated to the FUNCTION of the GOSPEL! (Call it FOGin Friday?! Hmmmm?)
What is “the Gospel”? Can the Gospel be put into irreducibles? Is there more than one Gospel? The Gospel that was preached to the Jews is it different than what was preached to the Gentiles and different still for those who live now? Is the Gospel a one time gift, gig, experience, commitment? Is there a redemptive function to the Gospel on a daily bases that touches the entirety of our personal lives and addresses the entirety of Humanity’s Story?
I recieved an email the other day from a friend and missionary of Campus for Christ asking me to help him think through how they are teaching their students to present the Gospel to a NOW culture; A deeply secular, functionally fragmented culture that holds as its highest doctrines tolerance, pluralism, and doubt- NEEDS a FUNCTIONAL GOSPEL!
Here’s how I have begun the conversation:
I’ll think a bit more on it…. remind me to reply further.
I have found that if I am really speaking the Gospel it means more then saying there is only two ways (before you call me a heretic hear me out). Often times we propose that there are two ways living a Hedonistic, amoral life that leads to wickedness or being a Christian. Although that is true in it’s foundation, the problem with most of our hearers in North America is that they translate “Christianity” as doing the right things (no drugs, no sex, no drinking, no dancing, no hanging out with those who do)- moralism. I would say that 99.5 % of the people in our culture who have said that they have given up on, or have no interest in Christianity or the Church have not really rejected Christ- the true Gospel- but have rejected this moralistic idea of religion.
I find personally that it is more affective in our post-modern culture to present Christ as the ‘THIRD’ way. Not live any way I want to, gathering all the baggage and sickness of a life with out God; nor a moralistic- I have to work to keep myself in good standing with God so that He might accept me, by going to church, giving, loving my neighbour, and cutting down on the sexual activity. But the facts that the Gospel of Jesus is the story of a God who sacrifices all to reach out to a world gone wild, so that we might discover what it is like to have a Father who really loves us, cares for us, and completely knows the pieces that are missing in our lives (there is plenty of scriptures that you can attach to each of these points to show the power of the atonement to make us at-one with Him).
Religion is me trying to work from the outside-in to try and make myself acceptable before God (Islam, Mormon, JW’s and a lot of “Christians”) or to achieve some form of enlightenment or karma so that I will make myself a better person (Buddhism, Hindu, liberal activism). Jesus is different. The Gospel is a third way- Jesus takes on the religious rhetoric- lives a perfect life; dies a cruel death so that we don’t have to try to live out of self rightness. Jesus comes to a world that is full of baggage, addiction and brokenness and takes on the out comes of hedonistic living by suffering the wrath of a Holy God – so the THIRD WAY is JESUS- the Gospel.
Not sure if that all makes sense but maybe it could get a conversation going? I am glad you are wrestling with this…that is an important part of understanding culture and gospel connections!
Keep me in the loop of what your thinking! Willing to interact with all this.
Ready to church plant yet:)? We should have a church plant one year training track ready some time in the next two years or so?
Great to hear from you Ben.
ps- A great place for you to go deeper on this is a new (short) book out by one of the best guys who is explaining the Gospel to the culture right now- Tim Keller, of Redeemer Presbyterian– His new book is called “Prodigal God” and deals directly with what I’ve only touched on above.
Blogging END NOTE:
These growing understandings, of a functional Gospel, in my life have been greatly influenced by reading and listening to Tim Keller, Mark Driscol (our Acts29 big brother), my Acts29 church plant band of brothers, and John Piper– but the growing convictions in my life, of the need for a renewed understanding of a functional Gospel have come from time on the streets of Halifax, and by studying the book of Acts in the New Testament. MORE next Friday!