October 28, 2020

Riffs: 03:07:09: David Head (and Paul) on the Gospel

It seems to me that evangelicals need to say one thing, do one thing and be one thing. But what?

In lieu of an answer like, “the Gospel,” another option is to try to say many things, do many things and be many things, all from a standard that varies from group to group, even person to person.

It’s a very bad solution. Look out your window and that cacophony you hear is evangelicalism doing whatever it does.

Let’s address this two ways:

Start with David Head’s amazing, wonderful concluding post in his “Recovering From Theological Genocide/Suicide” series at his blog, Ponder Anew. This is a post about that “one thing” I’m talking about: the Gospel; but not just “about” the Gospel. It’s a thorough and liberating one-note composition on “What do we do now?” David has a great gift of prose, but also a fine gift of positive application, something deeply needed in the blogosphere.

Here’s a sample of just one of his list of eleven.

Make the gospel the defining element of our worship and preaching. Evangelical worship is often driven more by hot guitar licks meant to get people dancing than an overwhelming encounter with holy Love that leaves people on their faces—and silent. Evangelical preaching is often more dependent on Dr. Phil than the Physician of Souls, so that people may walk away feeling better about themselves, but without being deeply engaged and satisfied in soul.. We only enter worship “by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh.”(Heb.10:19-20) and only Jesus satisfies the soul with “living water’ so people will “never thirst again.” (John 4:10,13) Worship tethered to the gospel is simply and profoundly different.

Read and pass that post along. (In fact, David, give it a separate title and get it out there again. It’s great medicine.)

Now, remember what we are doing here: What is the “one thing” evangelicals need to experience resurgence, reformation, revival, recovery and re-energizing of their vision?

I want you to visit I Corinthians 15 with me for a moment. I Corinthians 15 is the antidote to all the versions of evangelicalism that are growing in that empty, weed-covered lot where the church used to be.

Why? I’ll let you be reminded by “the Apostle.”

15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Notice, class, that we have here about as clear an unfolding of the “one thing” we are about as a person could hope to find. To turn it around a bit for clarity to our question:

“I delivered to you what was more important than any of the things you or the world believe are important. This is what is most important; above anything else. It’s what I received from those who were with Jesus, what I preached to you, what you received when you became Christians, what saved and is saving you, what made all of us what we are and will be (by the grace of God.) What is it? The Gospel! i.e. The Bible’s announcement that Jesus is King, that he died for our sins as all the scriptures prepared us to believe, and he rose from the dead in an undeniable miracle of God’s power to vindicate him as the long-hoped for Messiah.”

It’s remarkable that evangelicalism is full of people who have no idea what the above paragraphs are saying. It’s depressing to think that the pulpits of evangelicalism are increasingly abandoning this message for…..I can’t even describe it any more. Self help is too much of a compliment for it, but it will have to do.

You can now find a room full of nodding heads for your talk on hiding the Gospel behind (you name it and drop it in here.) Or how this is just the first step. Or, yes, but we have to remember that the church…………..zzzzzzzzzzz. It’s simple. So you can’t miss it. You can’t miss it….unless you are trying to miss it. Apparently lots of evangelicals are trying….and succeeding.

David Head’s post. I Corinthians 15. The Gospel is that one thing we need to be, be about, be doing. Think about it. Pray about it. Feel it. Do something about it.

Comments

  1. sue kephart says

    I thought the idea of these (what I call) ‘new think’ churches was to indtroduce the Gospel to the unbelievers. The kind of born anew thing. Then at some time the baby believer would be ready to move on to the big boy and girl church. But it seems that the people stayed and now the ‘new think’ church has to do some more new thinking.

    Meanwhile the big people church is losing members and starts looking at the ‘new think’ churches and sees they are growing so many decides to imatate them. Now we all seem to be getting shallower. It is getting harder and harder to find something credal, Eucharistic, liturgical and apostolic (believe what the apostles believed).

  2. Loved this statement from his post: “Evangelicals have for too long treated the gospels as elementary school and Paul as graduate school.”

    Wow.

    If we were forced to make the choice, I think many would choose having Paul’s letters over Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – at least that’s what it seems because Paul is so often used as a baseball bat in theological street fights.

  3. Mark Nikirk says

    Keep saying it iMonk. Kep on writing until the situation changes. I live in an area that is predominantly Catholic. Its true to say that probably half of each evangelical congregation is made up of former cradle Catholics that left the RCC. Unfortunately, they generally bring with them the attitude that ‘liturgy is dead’. I’ve heard this many times. To compete for their patronage, the churches in my area get as far away from liturgy as they can….no Communion, no scripture reading, no call and response, and absolutely no Advent, lent, epiphany, etc…

    I’ve been a charismatic evangelical all my life. I plan to stay that way because I believe in the traditions of my denomination. However, Gospel-less preaching, disregard for the sacraments, and the wholesale elimination of anything connecting us to larger church history and tradition has turned me into a refugee right now. I wonder how long I’ll have to wait until I finally feel at home in a church body?

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Evangelical worship is often driven more by hot guitar licks meant to get people dancing than an overwhelming encounter with holy Love that leaves people on their faces—and silent.

    From John 6:
    After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”
    Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

    Does “hot guitar licks” (whether called “worship” or not) have the Words of Eternal Life?

    Does Young Earth Creationism Uber Alles?

    Does Pin-the-Tail-on-The-Antichrist?

    Does Culture War Without End, Amen?