The following are the brief remarks I made at Immanuel Church on the Sunday after the White Nationalist rally in Charlotteville, Virginia
There has been much discussion about the meaning of the Gospel. What is the Gospel? Entrance into to heaven? A list or propositions? In this video, Dallas Willard talks about what the Gospel is and how we live in it.
Dear Jesus, we tremble at the thought of you speaking these words to us. What could be more sobering and tragic than to hear you say, “You talk about me a whole lot, using plenty of spiritual language and Bible quotes. You’re very quick to recognize and correct false teaching. You’re even quite zealous to apply what you know to others. But your heart is very far from me.”
Attempting to contextualize the Gospel is a very acute and sensitive endeavor. Push the envelope too far and you will be lost in the ocean of syncretism, or really just pervert the Gospel until it is no longer the good news of Jesus Christ, but the good news of whatever culture or society you are in. On the contrary, if you fail to contextualize at all, or just contextualize too little, evangelism really just becomes assimilation and or socialization unto the church culture – or Christian imperialism. Stanley Hauerwas seems to insinuate in his book Resident Alien that the first apologists in the early church were inadvertently (it should be noted that Constantinian Christendom was also a major contributing factor) laying the groundwork that would perpetuate into modern theologians fruitless attempts to accommodate or make the Gospel – perceived to be ancient and outdated due to its ancient near eastern Hebraic roots – seem relevant and intelligible to the post-modernity, post-enlightenment, and increasingly anti-Christianity intellectual realm of the current times. (There is obviously more to be said and more to explain, but for the sake of the brevity of the blog post, and retaining your interest, I must go on.) This, Hauerwas goes on to argue, “transforms it [the Gospel] into something it never claimed to be – ideas abstracted from Jesus, rather than Jesus with his people.”