Monday, February 10, 2014

The Church Must Be Clear and Comprehensive with the Gospel

            Postmodernity necessitates a different approach than has been the case historically. We cannot assume any biblical literacy or any understanding of sin, good, God, Bible, heaven or hell. D.A. Carson states that Paul’s address in Athens is construction of a biblical worldview, from God as eternally existing creator to Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb.[1] This was important in Athens or Greek culture in order for the Gospel to make sense. Our culture is a modern day Athens with religious pluralism as a defining characteristic. Postmoderns are accustomed to religious or spiritual talk, so introducing the Gospel is not too difficult. But we must steer clear of vagueness and ambiguity and point directly to Christ as the remedy for sin. Carson writes, “saying God loves you may carry a very different set of associations than for Christians.”[2]
            Postmodernity’s obsession with spirituality demands that our Gospel presentations be more comprehensive and coherent that ever before. When these presentations are the subsequent action of the church being culturally educated and creatively engaged the collateral effect is Gospel centered communitas (an intense community spirit, the feeling of great social equality, solidarity, and togetherness). These presentations must be comprehensive in that they point postmoderns to the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the sinless Son of God who came and died for the sins of humanity and His resurrection verifies the transaction and imparts life to us in this present world. There is no other religious system to make such a claim but as Ravi Zacharias states in the opening essay of Telling the Truth, “What our (postmodern) culture needs is an apologetic that is not merely well argued, but also felt. There has to be passion in communication. There must be a felt reality beyond the cognitive, engaging the feeling of the listener.”[3] Cultural education and creative engagement affords the church an opportunity to incarnate the Gospel through acts of compassion and sacrificial service that engage the feeling of the listener. The collateral effect of such a strategy is immeasurable but God is Sovereign and accomplishes His glorious and immense will with our acts of Gospel-driven compassion and sacrifice. May it all speak to the uniqueness and supremacy of Christ as Lord as postmoderns find in Christ, and His body, a spiritual coherency and consistency that is, at once, intellectually hard to deny and emotionally enticing as well.

            [1] D. A. Carson, “Athens Revisited,” in Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 392.

            [2] Ibid., 395.
            [3] Ravi Zacharias, “An Ancient Message, Through Modern Means, To A Postmodern Mind ,” in Telling the Truth: Evangelizing  Postmoderns, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 26.

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