Wednesday, September 05, 2007

[THO] What is the Gospel?

My buddy Byron posted a series on this recently. Byron started off with a challenge to write down in a sentence or two exactly what is the gospel. I've been thinking about that a lot lately as I have been engaging in a debate with the Living Waters Canada Rep, Chris Curry. Chris has generously sent me a few of Ray Comfort's books which I will endeavour to review here. I've endured a few of Ray's videos and I find him quite offensive actually. Which begs that question - what is the gospel?

Byron does a great job of defining the gospel in terms of the Kingdom of God. Where I want to go is to look at the implications - how do we live out what the gospel is? If we believe that the gospel is essentially only about your personally getting right with God then perhaps Ray Comfort is not so far off in his thinking. But if the gospel is the good news of the Kingdom, as Jesus claims, then it has far greater implications than merely getting folks saved and in the waiting line for heaven. A lot is at stake on our understanding of the gospel.

For me it comes down to what Jesus did. If we want to follow the true way of the master, then it definitely isn't going to boil down to a modern formulaic representation such as Comfortians often employ. As long as it is missing the heart of the gospel - that is good news that the King has come - then it is nothing more than what the Pharisees did when they searched out converts to become twice as good at converting others as they were. Jesus wasn't impressed. Neither should we be impressed. The King changes everything.

So what did Jesus do? Well he healed the sick, drove out spirits, mended relationships, restored dignity, stood for justice, called for repentance, fed the hungry, taught the masses (inside and outside the synagogue!), loved the children, freed prisoners, gave people purpose and meaning... In short Jesus changed everything. So how can we call gospel anything that compartmentalizes a small bit of this? We can't, it is all or nothing. But isn't that What Jesus did for us? He gave everything for us. Paul aptly responds that our only reasonable response is to give our whole selves as living sacrifices.

I was watching one of those videos yesterday, where Ray is berating a young man who dared to admit he believed in evolution. I kept thinking, "what is your point Ray?" I think there is a place for even the law in evangelism. But when that is your only option then you miss the bulk of the richness of what the gospel really is. Why would I believe God loves me after you've just treated me like shit? How can that thought not go through the minds of those accosted with such a stark misrepresentation of God's good news? Maybe I don't get it. Maybe I'm missing something and the books will help me with that. Then again... what is the gospel?


DMofKor said...


byron smith said...

Mmmm, maybe it's time for me to change my profile pic. That one's been there a while...

Thanks for the link, buddy.

Why would I believe God loves me after you've just treated me like shit?
Amen. Works the other way too - why would I believe that you even love this God you want me to love if you treat me like this? (1 John 4.20-21)

Anonymous said...

This new technique of using public humiliation as a form witnessing for Christ seems like a fitting approach for snapping folks from their busy commute through the city. Why not? Consider the lure free cash, the simplicity of an easy question, and for those watching--the curiosity of seeing someone on the hot seat facing a moral dilemma.

And how do good candidates fair after a wave of Christian "love" exposes their insecurities? If they are still around they are asked: will you have a tract, will you say a prayer with me, why don't you meet us at church, God bless! Or in other cases depending on the personality of the candidate one might hear: get away from me you freaks!

I would be interested to learn the conversion track record by this method of preaching.

Bottom line is this technique is too dangerous to use people off of the street. For shock value it could be changed by staging actors in a mock-good person test. Those gathering around to watch the show could be given the dignity of privacy, between their consciences and God rather than being holy rolled by fellow Christians. But it's too late to change now that this reality TV franchaise has already taken root.

One of Freedom said...

I would love to see statistics too. BTW Living Waters Canada sent me three of Ray Comfort's books. I plan on doing a review of them at some point. I've been chatting with the director offline, he deleted my comments on his facebook notes. He seems a good guy, just embedded in something that is seems more of the spirit of fear than the Spirit of Christ.