While reading the book What Is the Gospel?, I was surprised when my eyes fell upon a reference that the author, Greg Gilbert, gives to a sermon that the Apostle Paul preached where he did not reference the gospel of Jesus Christ. Could this be true? How could Paul, of all people, leave out the gospel? Not only that, the sermon even made it into the pages of the Bible!
As I read it I posted the observation to Twitter, where the conversation ran around like a disturbed warren of frighten rabbits. Some people did not seem disturbed in the least, others tried to say that Paul’s mention of Christ was his mention of the gospel, but not only does Paul not mention Christ by name, he only presents him as a righteous judge. Not good news by any stretch of the imagination.
I will pose this simple question: if we only do good things, will people know about Jesus?
Did you answer ‘yes’? Then I will ask you: do all good deeds, no matter who does them, testify to Jesus? Do the actions of a secular humanist or Buddhist tell people that Jesus died for their sins?
If you said ‘yes’ again, then why did Jesus preach? Consider this:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:14-17 emphasis added)
More aches in the house of Warren, which most know as Saddleback Church in southern California. The dust is still settling from Warrengate and the Jonas Brothers concert this year’s Easter Sunday worship service, and he still does not seem to have a basic understanding of what the Gospel is.
Consider this tweet from yesterday:
In a small meeting room on deck 5, a group of Federation officers take some time away from their important duties onboard the Starship Enterprise to reflect on something more infinite than space itself. The group has been working through the Gospel of Mark and all the while reflecting on the sufficiency of grace and the role of Christ in his universal plan of salvation.
Inspired by the sharp confrontation in chapter 8, Lt. Worf decides to read from the KLV (Klingon Language Version of the Bible). “This particular version,” he explains, “gives special strength to Jesus’ rebuke of Peter because of our rich, warlike tongue:”
peghHa’ ghaH, SoQvam maqtaHvIS.
ghaH nge’pu’DI’ pe’tlhoS, ghaH qunchoH.
- Mark 8:32
So hang the hopes of members of the Klingon Bible Translation Project. The endeavors of this group of devout Trekkers claim that their “goals do not include missionary work, but this is a project worthy of [their] efforts for purely secular reasons.”
Nearly a year ago I began to follow the moving and shaking that has been happening in the northern part of my state in a booming Christian congregation called Granger Community Church. A typical megachurch, Granger prides itself in being fully relevant to popular culture even to the extent of using Coldplay songs to headline services and basing sermons on popular movies, drawing out “spiritual themes” and applying them to the lives of Christians.
As a testimony to the belief in the method above the message, executive pastor Tim Stevens wrote a book called Pop Goes the Church: Should the Church Engage Pop Culture? to defend the church’s philosophy of taking pop culture as the driving force behind its weekly services rather than the good news of Jesus Christ.
Lacking theological basis, services at Granger lack the biblical substance, giving popular culture the center stage. Granger wrongly bases its success on the number of people in attendance, not on the strength of their belief. For the remainder of this post I will take chapter 8, titled “I’m Not a Theologian, But…” and address each of the ten points he tries to make to justify a position that the church should not only address popular culture, but completely embrace it.