3/14/2010

Searching for a New Gospel

.
Seems to me that Evangelicals are Searching for a New Gospel...

So, what do YOU think?

18 comments:

Ken Schenck said...

Seems I remember reading somewhere, "even if an angel from heaven should preach to you a different gospel..." :-)

tricia said...

Interesting. I'll have to think about it. I do think you are right that there is a search for a new focus of the gospel to and hone in on and present.
I am finishing up Stott's book on the cross and it goes into depth regarding some of the issues you mentioned and they sound pretty foreign to what we usually hear in regards to sin and punishment.

andrea said...

*sigh*
Can't we just adopt the Eastern Orthodox Church's Divine Liturgy and rid ourselves of the annoying need to not only capitulate to culture but also re-work the Gospel for each successive generation? :)

Dean said...

The Story of God...The Same Gospel

We are a small but very important part of a story bigger than our own. The story began with a creation chapter. Another chapter introduced a man and his descendants who became a nation. That chapter continued with the history, poetry and truth-tellers in that nation.

A new chapter introduced the central hero in the story named Jesus. This chapter included the stories and experiences of Jesus and his closest friends. It tells how Jesus lived, died and returned to life again. That chapter ended when Jesus left earth to be reunited with God.

The next chapter began when the friends of Jesus were filled with the Spirit of Jesus. They began to tell the story to others and invited anyone both in their own nation and any other to become a part of the story. They wrote books about the life of Jesus and letters to help others participate in the story. The people who are a part of the story are known as the Church.

Just as the story had a beginning, this story has a final chapter. This chapter is still being written, in books, letters, sermons, lessons, movies, art, songs, broadcasts, internet posts and many other ways. But most importantly, it is being written in the lives of those who are telling the story by their everyday words and actions.

That chapter will end with the return of Jesus. When he does, it will be to welcome everyone who has ever joined in the story to live with God forever. Only those who enter into God's story will experience this.

Erin Crisp said...

"Old Gospel ...receive God’s forgiveness so that you can escape death and have life everlasting."

Yup. Sounds familiar to me. And I'm thankful for that message as it is true and essential, and I made my first confessions of faith in response to this message. I agree with the 3 causes you mentioned as reasons why this gospel emphasis is no longer as effective, but I would add another cause.

Those of us who grew up hearing this message regularly, at a variety of volumes and intensities, found ourselves in our young adult years feeling like we'd missed the point. We sensed a void and our current aversion to "old gospel" teaching is our reaction.

So now, since we are learning to lead others, we want to teach the Sermon on the Mount side of things... the doing side of what we believe.. how to live... our place in the narrative... testimonies from those who've been changed. Who knew that the gospels could have so much to say about what it means to belong to the Kingdom of God?

The risk of this "New Gospel" is that my generation could become so immersed in the doing- social justice, kingdom on earth, loving people etc.- that our children are sure to say, "We knew how to live as Christians, how to serve others, live and worship as a community (and not a just group of individuals), but somehow we lost sight of the one central truth behind it all."

Brad Harris said...

What might this New Gospel will look like?
- I have know doubt that the emergent church would love to look like the new gospel. Which will be a very weak gospel because of their low view of scripture.

Is it already being introduced?
Who are the voices describing this New Gospel?
- Again, the emergent church. Bell, Mclaren, Jones, and Pagitt. Bell likes a kinder god and add a little Buddhism in there as well and Mclaren who can't decide if Jesus even new why He had to die. Pagitt wants a new understanding of truth which is based on his truth. They believe you just kind of join in what Christ is doing without the mess of godly sorrow. This new gospel they have to offer is not what we want. Unless you want a weak and pitiful version of the gospel. That is what they offer.

Will there be a counter-revival of the Old Gospel—and if so, how? Who?
- I would agree that the church in the last 30 plus years have been more concern getting people to say the sinners prayer for the purpose of numbers and weak on conversion. The church has been great in pointing fingers and condemning.

I believe the Wesleyan church is in a great position to lead and change the the mistakes of the past.

I think some believe the emergent is it. I personaly hope the Wesleyan church stays away form them.

What role might “Black Coffee Calvinism” play in all this?
- Yes God is kind, loving, merciful, forgiving, and so much more. Yet, we can not forget that God is Holy.

Are there other orthodox ways of seeing the atonement besides the “Old Gospel” way?

The Gospel is what it is. Hope, a love story, forgiveness, mercy, grace, and yes even condemnation of sin.

What I really think people are looking for is something that really makes a difference in their life and that their life can count for something. Yet this gospel has never changed and will never change.

What has often happens through history we either go from one extreme to the other. Instead of where we need to be we will go to the other extreme. Sorry, but my perspective is that the emergent church will be that other extreme and it will hurt the church and make it weaker.

bookworm said...

There could arise a New Gospel that in some way regards salvation more as a collective hope rather than focusing on individual redemption. Verses like Matthew 1:21 may come to be quoted as often as John 3:16 was under the Old Gospel.

I don't know if there are currently voices advocating for such a gospel - but consider how technology driven social networking seems to be creating a generation that doesn't know what it is to not be interacting with another human being for any waking moment. Consider also the general sense people have that society is sick and in need of healing,even if the individual has no sense of himself being a sinner. Concurrently or alternatively there may be a back-to-the-future resurgence of old time postmillenial eschatology.

A counter revival of the Old Gospel will eventually happen, because the Old Gospel contained The Gospel, along with some baggage. The old baggage will be left behind, but we'll no doubt manage to pick up some new baggage. But there will still be the gospel.

A "new" orthodox gospel might emphasize a more well rounded motive for responding to the gospel call.
Q. Why should anyone want to receive Jesus as Savior? A. Well you better or else you won't be received into Heaven.
Q. Why should anyone want to go to Heaven. A. Because the alternative is so horrible.
That's the way the Old Gospel was often (not always) presented. True enough as far as it goes, but by itself how much did such a message do to cultivate a desire for Christ and His kingdom? Without leaving off the warnings of wrath to come (declare the whole councel of God)a New Old Gospel might do well to equally emphasize the exhortation and promise in Acts 3:19-21. This too is The Gospel and it might just strike a chord in our generation.

Lawrence W. Wilson said...

The "old problem" was guilt, so the "old gospel" majored on forgiveness.

The "new problem" is insignificance, so the "new solution" is purpose.

Both are real human problems. It may have been a flaw of the old gospel that it did not offer more than forgiveness.

It will certainly be an error if the new gospel does not offer more than something meaningful to do. It is still true that we are saved by grace, not works.

Chap said...

I believe the search for the new gospel is happening already in the Acts 29 movement begun by Marc Driscoll. They are unpacking the old gospel in new media. He is packaging his flair for creative communication with "old" fuddy duddy theolgians like Gary Breshears. This movement is a breath of fresh air compared to the emergents.

Brad Harris said...

I like what you said Lawrence.

I agree that if we go down the road of making social justice and etc... it will just be by works. That is the concern. If it just by works or joining Christ in what he is doing. (yes I know it is part of it) But who will really need Christ then. Anyone can do works and anyone can do social justice. Social justice with out Salvation, Forgiveness of sin, and godly sorrow is nothing.

There have been those from the past who lived out the cause of Christ who truly can be our examples of social justice, forgiveness of sin, and the reason why Christ died. I think of Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian. These men decided together if they would ever be attached they would not defend themselves. With the death of these men it open the doors for two of the wives to go in to this tribe who killed their husbands and bring forgiveness and the message of Christ. That tribe is changed.

I also think of Eric Liddell who won the gold but much more than that a year latter goes to China. As WW2 Came he gets put into a Japan's concentration camp. Each morning he would get up have his bible study time and then plan his day. Plan his day for what? He's in a concentration camp. He would plan his day in how best it could have an impact for Christ. His day was spent planing games for the kids and activities for the adults. For the soul purpose to encourage and be Christ to them. He did this until his death of a brain tumor. Eric Liddle did more for the gospel of Christ in China than anyone else. China realizing the impact that Eric had in their country made a monument honoring Eric's life and his sacrifice to the Chinese people. The only foreigner to ever have this honor given to.

I could go on with so many examples but these are the ones we can learn from. They balanced their lives with purpose and the message of the gospel of Christ.

I guess I don't see and old gospel or a new gospel. I like the one that has always been and will always be. It has not changed and will never change. It's not emergent or whatever type of new name you want to give it or what ever twist we want to throw on it.

You cannot have social justice without the gospel. Yes, this gospel will mention sin and the need for it to be out of our lives.

Jeremy McNabb said...

I think that the "Old Gospel," especially that of the last few hundred years, has taken the "good" out of the Good News. This Old Gospel focuses in on all the nastiness that we need saving from and, almost as an afterthought, says "but Jesus is better than that." There's almost an unspoken statement that we worship Jesus because he's our fire ... See Moreescape, but the truth is that we should worship Jesus because he is God. Even if he had never promised to save us, even though he slay us, we should praise him.

This "Old Gospel" that so many people are fond of consists of saying that Jesus is better than the alternative--Hell. If that were Gatorade's marketing campaign (Gatorade: Better than stagnant pond water) the company would go under.

It's entirely true that, without Christ, we would suffer eternal death, but I believe that Jesus is greater than Hell is bad.

Peter Tremblay said...

I disagree with you Jeremy. We do need to understand our lostness and the righteousness of a Holy God before we can understand the high price Jesus paid for our salvation and the requirement of holiness. The Born-Again life has never been an after-thought - an honest evaluation of "old-time" preaching would prove that to anyone that would do some ... See Moreresearch instead of simply passing on contemporary prejudices against a Christianity that once demanded more responsibility. What is missing today is an AWE and proper "fear of the Lord" - which God's Word says is required. This minimizing of the lostness of humanity has resulted in a loss of respect for God and a casual faith that considers holiness to simply be an option rather than a requirement.

Jeremy McNabb said...

I'm not sure that's disagreeing with what I said. I think you're disagreeing with what a lot of liberal theologians might say. I absolutely believe that we need to have an understanding of the terrible nature of our sin and I totally agree that we should fear the Lord, and be in awe of Him. But I think we need to praise, accept, and follow God ... See Morebecause of who he is, not just so that we can get a Get-Out-Of-Hell-Free card. Awe and righteous fear is exactly the kind of thing we need to embrace. The last two hundred years of evangelism seems to have focused more on not going to Hell than it has getting to God.

Kent Perkins said...

Assuming that your "sample" Old Gospel is just a statement of basic principles and not an official be all end all, word-for-word, EXACT old gospel definition I will try not to play semantics.

The three things you discuss that make the Old Gospel such a hard sell seem to center around people's misunderstanding of God's law and the consequences of that misunderstanding. It would seem then that a New Gospel would have to be an expansion, or rewording of the old one (How can you put "don't break God's laws" in any simpler terms?)

We can't simply ignore the ABSOLUTE of God's Law because we don't want to scare anybody. The Gospel...any Gospel, old or new in it's simplest form would only work with all the parts, take away one (God's law, God's forgiveness, God's wrath, etc.) and you no longer have the Gospel Synthesis: Any New Gospel would have to keep everything in front of the "but" intact, and any additions or revisions would only be appropriate after. The fact that we need to follow God's laws is not dependent on our knowledge of those laws or fear of consequences.

Pete Vecchi said...

The question was asked, "What might this New Gospel look like?" First, I believe I should clarify that it won't be a "New Gospel" but more of a refocusing on different aspects of the same Gospel that has been preached since Jesus died, was resurrected, ascended into Heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit to indwell believers. I believe that I am correct in saying that the essence of the Gospel message has pretty much always been, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." (See Acts 16:31). Basically everything that has been emphasized in the centuries since that time (at least that starts from that basic premise) has been more or less an aspect of one or more points of doctrine that have tended to be emphasized over and above other aspects.

Many emphases have been about the saving from sin--especially the "Old Gospel" that Keith mentioned which was stressed by "1960's evangelicals." There was, and still is, much truth in that message. But that message still must fall under the essence of "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved."

The way I see things is that as society (especially in the United States) hurtles headlong into making more and more laws that cover seemingly every aspect of life, people are going to realize how difficult it is to live a life of following the law. In fact, it is said that most people unintentionally and/or unknowingly break civil laws every day. The bottom line is that the law doesn't justify anyone--it simply shows us where we fall short of following the law. This principle holds true for civil as well as spiritual law. Likewise, it is generally the desire of avoiding punishment that helps a person keep the law--not the law itself. The law itself has no power to save; only to condemn.

Why, then, is there often so much emphasis placed on on following the Law? The more I ask this question the more reasons I find. One of them is that some people insist on believing that they can indeed follow God's Old Covenant Laws well enough that God will certainly see that the good at least outweighs the bad, and therefore this should qualify the people for salvation. This type of attitude is the basis for rejection of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. In essence, it is saying that the sacrifice of Christ was not sufficient in and of itself, and that human effort must be added (or that human effort must be relied upon solely) to attain salvation.

The bottom line is that I believe that any "New Gospel" emphasis is going to have to address just what part the Old Covenant Law plays under the New Covenant of Christ.

I have more I would like to say on the matter, but this response has gotten lengthy enough.

Keith Drury said...

Thank you for the excellent thinking you have contributed on this issue! The comments are thoughtful, insightful and I think right on target. Fascinating! Thanks again!
-Keith Drury

David J. Felter said...

Great post, Keith. You've identified the challenge that the church is facing. I think the new gospel is pretty much in place...It embodies all the "concerns" of lost people. It emphasizes compassion, conversation, and collaboration. God is not wrathful, He is compassionate. God is not an angry bookkeeper, recording incidents where people broke His laws. Instead, He's interested in engaging us in conversations. Finally, God is not some cosmic ogre demanding His way, instead, He solicits our collaboration.

Oh yes...I believe the new gospel is here and gaining ground in many churches.

mar13 said...

Check out Tim Keller and his presentation of the Gospel (especially from the Galatians series) at http://www.redeemer.com