Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Push-Back

I've been reading John Piper's God is the Gospel (which I highly recommend, especially since it's a free download!), where Piper argues that the Gospel is ultimately a vision of the beauty and desirability of God above all other desirable things. His starting point for this:
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:4-6 ESV)
It is possible to present the Gospel in such a way that it simply compliments are selfish desires or assuages our fears, but the joy that such a gospel might bring is temporary at best. Although I suppose they may make strange bedfellows, Michael Frost seems to agree with Piper here. Frost argues:
When the contemporary evangelical church tries to present what it believes is the core message of the Bible, it nearly always does so in individualized terms, and it nearly always does so by presenting the message of Jesus as being about personalized benefit either in this world or the next.
That quote is from Frost's book, The Road to Missional. Both Piper and Frost are pushing back against the individualized understanding at the center of which is a self-interested decision to let Jesus come into our hearts. McKnight seems to be pushing back is his own way in his new book The King Jesus Gospel. The book's product description says it in a nutshell:
Contemporary evangelicals have built a 'salvation culture' but not a 'gospel culture.' Evangelicals have reduced the gospel to the message of personal salvation. This book makes a plea for us to recover the old gospel as that which is still new and still fresh. The book stands on four arguments: that the gospel is defined by the apostles in 1 Corinthians 15 as the completion of the Story of Israel in the saving Story of Jesus; that the gospel is found in the Four Gospels; that the gospel was preached by Jesus; and that the sermons in the Book of Acts are the best example of gospeling in the New Testament. In the Beginning was the Gospel ends with practical suggestions about evangelism and about building a gospel culture.
These two books are definitely on my to-read list.

1 comment:

nance marie said...

now you're talkin'