Wednesday, January 10, 2007

the gospel

I don’t know how many times I have heard believers say things like “This gospel presentation did not contain the gospel” because, in their view, some element was missing.

Francis Chan, not Jackie :-) teaching pastor of Cornerstone Community Church has a video up at Stop & Think: the movie. Francis Chan was also one of the speakers at Passion '07.

Steve Camp in his review of the video, writes:
The film was very well made and Pastor Chan is a very passionate and gifted communicator. As I watched this piece a few times, it occurred to me that Pastor Chan forgot one thing in his presentation of the gospel… the gospel itself....

Understand, it's not completely vacant of biblical truth; but it more hints at the gospel in romantic, sentimental tones rather than boldly proclaim it. It is in the "language and method" of Arminian invitationalism (God really is crazy about you and is begging you, waiting for you to accept Him as your Savior) than in the "language" of the biblical gospel. It is what I call, "sloppy agape."
Pretty strong words, for that I thought was a pretty good video, in it's context. So here are Camp's five "heartfelt concerns with this video:"
1. There is no mentioning or explanation of what it means to saved by grace through faith in Christ alone - justification by faith (Romans 3:21-26)

2. There is no mentioning or explanation of repentance from sin (Luke 24:46-47)
OK, at one level this is true. Chan did not use these words and phrases. But does that negate the truth that was communicated? I think not. Chan is speaking to people who are starting to think about life and meaning and purpose... the video, after all, is on a site called Stop & Think. Paul in his summary of the gospel in 1Cor 15:1-4 uses non of Camp's phrases, but does this make it less than the gospel? To see this video as portraying "all" of the gospel is wrong. To try and reduce the gospel to the 5 points of Calvinism or the 4 spiritual laws or the bridge diagram or any such tool is to put the gospel into a tiny box. Not only that, but it implies that everyone comes to Christ in the same way.

Chan says,

“... we are all going to be found guilty. The thing is that same God is saying, ‘I don’t want to punish you. I want to forgive you. I want a relationship with you.’ What I’m talking about isn’t a religion. It’s not about joining some cult. It’s about talking to your creator and having a relationship with Him... get alone with God and just say to your creator, ‘look: I love you. I know that I’ve messed up, but now I understand that your son paid for that. That blows my mind. I want to spend eternity with you, I want to follow you. But don’t just say, ‘OK God: I want to follow you’, because there are people all across America right now that say, ‘yeah, I believe in God, yeah I follow him,’ then you look at their lives and it doesn’t show. Jesus said, if you really knew me, you would obey my commands.”
If you watch to the entire video, Chan is clearly NOT giving a come-to-the-front-of-the-church-and-you’re-in presentation. He’s talking about a change of life in accepting God’s offer of forgiveness. Just because he doesn’t use standard Christianese doesn’t mean he doesn’t convey core concepts.

3. There is no mentioning or explanation of the Lordship of Christ; our submission to Him as Lord; or our confession of Him as Lord unto salvation (Acts 2:36-40; Romans 10:9-10)

That's simply not true. Chan doesn't use that language, but he certainly communicates that clearly. See above.

4. There was not one mentioning of any Bible verse specifically in the entire video. A non-Christian who would watch this would have no idea where to look in a Bible to see if what Chan was saying was true. Pastor Chan used the language of "Jesus says..." or "God says..." or the "bible says..." But, he never told them where those things are said; and when he was trying to quote it himself, he usually misquoted it (2 Tim. 4:1-5).

To the first part, I say "So!?" This is an intro video... a "stop & think" video. It is not a sermon, it's a chat on the beach, while surfing. Unless you are using the Outdoor Bible or the "expanded Bible" [that's what happened to my Gideon NT when I tipped my canoe going through some rapids!] To the second part, just because references are not given, does not mean that the Bible is not being quoted. As to his misquoting it... I don't think so, unless it's vital that a particular translation is used.

5. But whatever concerns I have mentioned above, the absence of this concern is absolutely profound. There is no mentioning or explanation of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Cor. 15:3-4; 12-18). Without the resurrection, our preaching and hope are "in vain." Without the including of this in the video, it renders whatever gospel presentation there was... "in vain."
Come on... Yes, the resurrection is the foundation for what Chan says... but why, do we have to have everything squeezed into a 15 minute package. Chan has been talking about the problem of sin and how the answer to that is found in Christ. Chan is carrying a surf board... that tells us something about the context of who he is speaking to... & it ain't theologically savy people... it's people who are spiritually hungry or at least willing to start thinking about meaning and purpose. I wonder if some of the expectations of certain words [and it's not just full-scale 5-point Calvinists who do this] leads more to an understanding that we've got to do things "right", we have to say things "right". And we are stuck in a so-called gospel of works.

Chan rightly says:

"The most amazing truth in the world... despite everything you have done in your life... God still loves you... the God of the universe is crazy about you."

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