Thursday, July 23, 2009

Evangelical Confusion: What Is the Gospel?

I've been thinking about confusion in Evangelical thinking lately, particularly around the core message of the Gospel.  This thought from David Wells seems to capture both the problem with the movement's underlying philosophy - and the results succinctly... It's a sad commentary, and I think his choice of descriptives is both helpful and Biblical.  But what do you think?

If we mute the biblical gospel by our misunderstanding, or by our practice in the church, we destroy the possibility of spiritual authenticity in the church. In theory, most evangelicals assent to all of this. In practice, many evangelicals – especially those of a marketing and emergent kind – are walking away from the hard edges of these truths in an effort to make the gospel easy to swallow, quick to sell, and generationally appealing. They are very well aware of a deep cultural hunger for spirituality in the West, and they are trolling in these waters. The problem, however, is that this spirituality is highly privatized, highly individualistic, self-centered, and hostile to doctrine because it is always hostile to Christian truth. Evangelicals gain nothing by merely attracting to their churches postmoderns who are yearning for what is spiritual if, in catering to this, the gospel is diluted, made easy, and the edges get rounded off. The degree to which evangelicals are doing this is the degree to which they are invalidating themselves and prostituting the church.” (The Courage To Be Protestant, page 372, emphasis added.)
Ouch.  I see too often churches who "mute the Biblical Gospel by ... misunderstanding" and even open hostility to doctrine.  Have you seen this in your experience?  Is Wells right or wrong in his assessment?  Comments are open!


Haggios Parresia said...

Charles Spurgeon understood that preaching was to glorify God and save men's souls, not simply help them get through another week. He said "If you long to save men's souls, you must tell them a great deal of disagreeable truth!" That kinda goes against the current trend in Evangleicalism, doesn't it...

Stephen said...

Great quote from Wells! (great book also). We need more men like Wells that have the courage to push against the grain of modern evangelicalism. What he speaks of is the very reason the church today as a whole looks no different than the world (same divorce rate, same earthly pursuits, time spent the same way, etc.). If the Gospel (and all biblical doctrine) was preached clearly, unapologetically, and authoritatively, it would cause a major division (Oh no! The "d" word!). But this would be a much needed division, because those whose lives are truly being transformed by the "foolishness of the gospel" would remain, while those who look to the church as another form of therapy leading to a "happy life" would be long gone (1 Cor 1:18, 22-24). Only then would the church be strengthened with men & women who truly know God, and His church would actually look different and be separate from the world, as is its biblical calling. However, the church today runs scared, thinking it needs to cater to culture by making the gospel "appealing!" This is an affront to God, because at its core, this is nothing more than unbelief in the power of the gospel replaced by belief in our own methods. THIS IS SIN, and the majority of our leaders in the modern church are in dire need of repentance!