Thursday, November 01, 2007

It’s the Gospel, Stupid!

When Bill Clinton ran for President, James Carville made a sign for the campaign office to keep everyone "on message." It had three points, the second of which was

The economy, stupid.

I suspect that we need such a sign in our churches.

We spend too much time and energy trying to convince people

Instead we need to be reminded that

It's the gospel, stupid!

This is the only real argument the church has.

The proper form of apologetics is the preaching of the gospel itself and the demonstration—which is not merely or primarily a matter of words—that it does provide the best foundation for a way of grasping and dealing with the mystery of our existence in this universe.
Lesslie Newbigin, Proper Confidence, p. 94

We must keep the focus on the Good News.

And this should not be confused with systematic theology. Theology is important, but the gospel is primary.

We talk too much about

That is not to say that these issues are unimportant. But compared to the gospel itself, they are simply "details."

And don't fall into the trap of thinking that "the gospel" is about

The gospel is the announcement of a new reality.

The business of the church is to tell and to embody a story, the story of God's mighty acts in creation and redemption and of God's promises concerning what will be in the end. The church affirms the truth of this story by celebrating it, interpreting it, and enacting it in the life of the contemporary world. It has no other way of affirming its truth. If it supposes that its truth can be authenticated by reference to some allegedly more reliable truth claim, such as those offered by the philosophy of religion, then it has implicitly denied the truth by which it lives.
Lesslie Newbigin, Proper Confidence, p. 76

And the only effective way to convince people of the truth of this new reality is to live it.

It is only as we are truly "indwelling" the gospel story, only as we are so deeply involved in the life of the community which is shaped by this story that it becomes our real "plausibility structure," that we are able steadily and confidently to live in this attitude of eager hope. Almost everything in the "plausibility structure" which is the habitation of our society seems to contradict this Christian hope. Everything suggests that it is absurd to believe that the true authority over all things is represented in a crucified man. No amount of brilliant argument can make it sound reasonable to the inhabitants of the reigning plausibility structure. That is why I am suggesting that the only possible hermeneutic of the gospel is a congregation which believes it.
Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, p. 232

Pastor Rod

"Helping You Become the Person God Created You to Be"


Cindy said...

Excellent post.

M. Pease said...

The major problem that we currently have in the church is the legacy of really really bad religion in the name of Jesus. It might be best if we just followed the advice of St. Francis of Assisi.

Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.

or better

It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.

Samuel A. Jefferson-Edwards said...

Reading this post was a delight. Made me smile and say 'amen.' It was well said, and with a twinkle. (Was that a twinkle I caught?) Refreshing.