Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Heresies, part 3 (the Gospel)

Let me first acknowledge that a series with over 3 months between part 2 and part 3 does not actually count as a series. Nonetheless...

I find myself, as of late, questioning much of what I have thought about the gospel. Not the core stuff, not the truth that Jesus, as both God and man, came to earth to re-open relationship between God and man. Not that part. The other stuff. In particular the notion that we must present the event of Jesus' life, death and resurrection solely in terms of sin and forgiveness. This notion is so prevalent in evangelical circles (in which I have travelled my entire adult life) that it is seen as a cheapening of the gospel to address the felt needs of those in our culture. This is particularly true if that means the we don't get around to "You are a sinner destined for hell" before a person responds to the message.

The problem with this approach is the education required. You see, there is good evidence that modern American culture does not come with a built-in perception of sin. So before we can give someone the good news that Jesus died for their sins, we have to convince them of the bad news that they are sinners. I'm afraid that too often we have lost them before we ever had a chance to really touch them.

But what our culture is looking for is a sense of purpose, a sense of community, and a chance to meet God. These we have in the church as well. In fact, Paul spends much of his writings talking to people about building community and about living a life of purpose. I find myself wondering if we wouldn't be more effective in touching people's lives if we spoke to them about those things and let the Holy Spirit handle the awareness of sin part. Personally, I doubt that a person could enter a growing relationship with the God of the universe as related in the Scriptures without eventually coming to terms with the fact of their own sinfulness.

So it's not that I am looking for another way to God, maybe just another way to Jesus...

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