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Friday, February 24, 2006

What's Your Problem?

It seems to me that there is a good deal of confusion in the church these days about the nature of the gospel. What exactly is the good news which the church proclaims?

Listen to the sermons that are preached in our churches? Do you hear - every single week - the message of Christ on the cross? Do you hear - in every single sermon - the forgiveness of sins? Justification? The atonement? If not, you ain't hearing the gospel.

In order to correctly declare the gospel, the preacher needs to understand the nature of humanity's problem. And here is where I think the error begins. What is our basic problem?

The Scriptures teach that our basic problem is that we are alienated from God by our sin. We are, apart from Christ, God's enemies and objects of wrath. Though few evangelical preachers would explicitly disagree with me, a lot of actual preaching suggests that this has been forgotten. Based on many evangelical sermons I have heard and read, I think that many preachers preach as if the main problem is that we are stressed out, burdened by busy lives, weary and over-extended. This then makes our Savior little more than a spiritual massuer, a personal coach, the giver of advice, a therapist.

The rest and comfort Christ gives is not like that which the world gives. We're not saying that Jesus is like Prozac only better; he's like two weeks at the beach, only better; he's like a day at the spa, only better. No, the rest Jesus gives is reconciliation and harmony with God.

For a good corrective:

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Jan M said...

Every week we hear self help sermons...Our homily last week was that we sin 'sometimes' and God and his grace are there to 'help' us when these 'times' occur. (Which happens to be every waking minute of my life, personally!) That is the gospel we are being taught. The cross cannot be mentioned-that might offend some people. The Church is teaching us to be self-helpers. Isn't nice that God is willing to 'help' us?

Sad, very sad. No to mention helping to crowd the wide way to....

Kelly Klages said...

Another observation that goes along with the "therapy" method: You will sometimes hear about God wanting to give you fulfillment, purpose, and any other buzz words that have made it into seeker-sensitive movements. You will hear about how you've been yearning for something, and Jesus, nice guy that he is, came to give us that fulfillment and abundant life. You're lucky if you hear that Jesus died on the cross; even more lucky if you hear that he had to die because our sins completely alienated us from God, and he is the only one who can save us from a just, eternal punishment. When did the word "gospel" come to mean "God giving us abundant life and giving us a sense of fulfillment"? Gospel necessarily refers to God's work, through Jesus, of forgiving sins. Seeker-sensitive advocates will say, "We have to do things this way to get through to people so we can share the gospel." The problem is that the gospel is consistently NOT being shared!

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