Tuesday, June 19, 2012

From What Is Not There

Longtime readers will know that I am no fan of Ray Comfort's propositional and confrontational brand of evangelism. The problem is that I'm writing the section of my thesis that critiques the truncation of the gospel to nothing but substitutionary atonement and Comfort is a good example of how bad that can get. So as I'm trying to find academic language to explain what we evangelicals call backsliding I'm pulling books off my shelf - popular evangelical books. Comfort's Hell's Best Kept Secret was at hand. Opening it up to the chapter "Who Are the Backsliders?" I am treated to this little travesty. 

Comfort's opening argument is that real salvations stick and do not need discipleship. How does he come up with this obviously unbiblical proposition? From what is not said about Philip's baptism of the Ethiopian Eunich. Basically he assumes that because Philip did not do follow up that we should not feel bad about not engaging in discipleship. This earned an immediate WTF in the margin. But the idea has me furious. It is all that I feel is wrong with evangelicalism. We really only want clean ideological conversions and none of the messiness of walking out new life with people who are interested in the Christian faith. I wonder how Comfort reconciles this bout of poor exegetical work with Jesus' actual imperative to make disciples? 

The truncation of the gospel just does not work. As Newton Fowler has said, even though the "truncated gospel resembles the biblical gospel it is not commensurate with the gospel." We need a bigger vision of the gospel - one that matches the size and love of our God. 

In the meantime, I'll put Comfort's book back on the shelf so my eye will stop twitching!

No comments: