I just started reading Death by Love: Letters from the Cross by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears.  Just on page 11 the following quote jumped off the page at me.  So basic, but yet profound.  Central to the Christian faith, but easily lost in incoming surge of relativism that currently marks our culture.

The gospel message comes from God to the culture but does not emanate in any way from the culture, though it must be effectively communicated to all cultures.  Because of this, the truth of the gospel of Scripture is binding on all peoples, times and places.

A gospel that emanates from culture is not from God as Paul warned in Galatians 1:6-9.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed, (ESV).

A question for discussion, from your point of view, what gospels do you see being proclaimed in our culture that emanates from culture?

  1. Shane,

    One of the most dangerous (and deceptive) “gospels” I encounter is the gospel of goodness. So many people I rub shoulders with in the political arena live a gospel of goodness. They may call themselves Christians but the gospel has never pierced their hearts to the point that they understand that being good is not good enough. Instead of confessing their sin, repenting, accepting Christ's love and then doing good because they live the Lord, they seem to want to skip some steps or put the cart before the horse.

  2. While not unique to American culture, I think any “gospel” involving varying degrees of self-sufficiency is especially appealing to it. (It could be argued that this doesn't necessarily emanate from culture, but merely feeds into the weakness of it.)

    The cafeteria gospel, which picks and chooses the elements it likes and rejects those it does not, is another form that suits the consumer mentality of our society. This feeds into the “What's in it for me?” thinking that permeates church life today.

  3. Sort of an American civic religion… something that in particular seems to permeate within the GOP. President Eisenhower was a big time proponent of this.

    There is a sympathy toward Judeo-Christian values, they are conservative (those are good trait), but Christian=American in the minds of some which is not good. Unfortunately they are still unregenerate.

    I don't want to say that all GOP is this way, and Democrats have their own issues too. I get this feeling when I hear a politician interviewed about their faith who doesn't seem to be able to articulate it or a biblical worldview.

  4. With “self-sufficiency” it is the whole “God helps those who help themselves” mantra.

    And yes, definitely see an aspect of consumerism in some people's faith.

  5. This is exactly what we should be discussing!! I feel very strongly about this, and have spent a lot of time studying this subject. Unfortunately, unless there was room here (and time) to write a book, I don't think I can fully do the subject justice, but I will try.

    It is very obvious to me, that American Evangelical Church is in crisis. One of the reasons for this is that the culture has infiltrated the Church to a much greater degree than the Church has the culture. This is why the Church is in crisis.

    We have watered down the gospel, we have made the Church more about us than the worship of God. It is about feeling good and entertainment. We have tried to make Church American. In the process we have watered down the gospel. There are Churches in every town that you will get a nice, self help message, but not the gospel. Or you have a completely wrong understanding of the gospel. It may come in extremes, like legalism, or antinomianism. All of this because they don't understand the gospel, Because Christ and Him crucified is not what is coming to the pulpit.

    People in what should be good Bible Believing Churches, do not even know how to explain the gospel, but they can tell you all kinds of ways they feel about it. There is not true discipleship going on. We are not training our Children in the ways they should go. There are many Christians that seem to value anti-intellectualism and sentimentalism more than Biblical Truth.

    So yes, the quote is right.

    I could go on and on and on. But fortunately there are others who have said it much better than I. I encourage you to read and blog about and discuss The Internet Monk's blog on the Coming Evangelical Collapse. If CNN, Fox News' Glenn Beck, Christianity today, Moody Radio and others are discussing it, then so should we.

    And while I don't agree with everything in the article, I think he has it right on in a lot of ways.
    The link is here to the three parts.

    And if you want to see how this has had an impact on American Evangelicalism, then Read Michael Horton's book Christless Christianity.

    This is the same thing that The White Horse Inn Radio show has been saying for over 15 years.

    It is time for a New Reformation. We have lost site of why we are Protestants at all. If you don't know the history of it, go study it NOW.

    Sola Fide- faith alone
    Sola Gratia- Grace Alone
    Sola Scriptura- Scripture alone
    Solus Christus- Christ Alone
    Soli Deo Gloria- To God Alone Be the Glory.

    If we went back to these principles, that which was important during the protestant reformation, we would not be pushing our culture into the Church and therefore dumbing down the gospel.

  6. Good thoughts… I just saw your FB note on this. It's funny you should mention Christless Christianity. It is sitting on my desk and I plan to start reading that as well. I figure it will dovetail nicely with Death by Love.

    We talked in Sunday school this morning about how people in the Church often do reflect the culture. People more and more whether they self-identify as evangelical or not do not reflect or articulate a biblical worldview.

    I did blog on Internet Monk's posts – I read them and posted my response long before the Christian Science Monitor got a hold of it.

    http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/?p=2080 – I appreciate your comment.

  7. Sorry, I didn't realize that you already blogged on I-Monk's post. I will go read it. I copied most of my response on here to my fb blog too. I just feel so strong about this. I have a passion about this unlike anything before. Getting the truth of the gospel out there.

    And Horton has other great books. Every Christian should read Putting Amazing back Into grace.

    I think a great listen is a talk by Rod Rosenbladt (my sister's father-in-law) called The Gospel For Those Broken by the Church. You can get it at my Brother-In-Law's website newreformationpress.com. And while it is from a Lutheran, he has a lot of good points about why people have left the Church. It all goes back to that preaching and understanding of the true, Biblical gospel.

    One last question, Since I have seen you call yourself 'missional' does that mean that you would be a fan of Pastor Tim Keller?? Now there is a guy that knows how to preach it!

  8. By the way, listen to Pastor Keller's message Lord of the Wine. It is awesome. (It has nothing to do with drinking.)

  9. The one that jumps to the front of my mind when I read that is the gospel that says, ” you're o.k. as long as you follow Jesus' example. ” Faith in and dependence daily on what Christ did are either marginalized or assumed.

  10. didn't mean to say something that's already been said (kinda new to the whole commenting thing 🙂 Anyway, I agree with Coleen when she says that there has been a watering down of the gospel. So much so that it goes right back up to the Gal 1 quote in that they are not proclaiming the gospel at all. If there's no gospel there's not really Christianity ( cough Moralistic Therapeutic Deism [para. 4] cough)…is there?

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