Categories
Life

The Splendid and Stern Gospel of John the Baptizer

In Luke 3, John the Baptizer’s gospel is hard, stern, and in-your-face.  He preaches a radical lifestyle of self-sacrifice, compassion, and justice (vv. 10-14).  He even goes so far to say that the Christ has an axe ready to cut down the unfruitful tree and winnowing fork ready to burn the worthless chaff (vv. 9, 17).

Luke didn’t see this latter part as unloving, unproductive, or un-Christian.  How did he see it?  He wrote, “So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people” (v. 18).

This is so unlike the good news we hear in Christianity today.  The “good news” is supposed to be soft, accommodating, and hippie-like.  C.S. Lewis thought otherwise about how we are to love people.  He said, “Love is something more splendid and stern than mere kindness.”  May we Christians be splendid and stern, like John, as we proclaim this good news to a dying and needy world.

Categories
Theology

I Might Be Giving Up on Christianity Today

Christianity Today (CT) recently interviewed Rob Bell about his book Jesus Wants to Save Christians.  And at the end of the interview, Galli asked Bell how he would present the gospel on Twitter.  Bell said:

I would say that history is headed somewhere. The thousands of little ways in which you are tempted to believe that hope might actually be a legitimate response to the insanity of the world actually can be trusted. And the Christian story is that a tomb is empty, and a movement has actually begun that has been present in a sense all along in creation. And all those times when your cynicism was at odds with an impulse within you that said that this little thing might be about something bigger—those tiny little slivers may in fact be connected to something really, really big.

That’s the gospel?  Really?  That is not anywhere close to the gospel.  What Bell said had nothing to do about Jesus Christ’s person and work.  His gospel is not saving.  It is not God-centered or biblical.  If you had to Twitter the gospel, keep it short and sweet, how about this:

I would remind you of the gospel I preached to you…For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1, 3-4).

Mark Galli, the interviewer, wrote at the beginning of the article that his book is “nothing less than a holistic, biblical theology of salvation — written, paradoxically, in Bell’s typical sentence-fragment style.”

That might even be more concerning to me given that CT calls themselves a magazine of “evangelical distinction.”  If Bell’s gospel is “evangelical,” then please, don’t call me that.