Tuesday, September 23, 2008


One of my favorite things Scot McKnight does on Jesus Creed is simply list all Biblical references to a topic and briefly address what is being said. He did it with the word "Heaven", tracing its use throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. He's doing it now with "gospel" or "good news". Check it out.

I asked the question there and I'll ask it here too: Do we have to announce any bad news before we announce the good news of Jesus? Most traditional evangelical evangelism (yeah, I couldn't think of a better way to phrase that) focuses on first convincing people that there is bad news, that they are a sinner in need of salvation.

But is that necessary? We have plenty of bad news in the world. Economic collapse brought on by greed, war, violence, sexual irresponsibility, the oppression of the poor by the rich, lack of reconciliation between racial and ethnic groups, lack of value for human life...people know, for the most part, what's wrong with the world. Probably, if pressed, they would chalk up many of the world's problems to evil or immorality (or, to use an old word, sin). Most people in our culture are not aware of any existential debt to God as a result of their own sin. Would evangelism be more effective (not to mention more faithful to the gospel) if we skipped over, for the moment, convincing people that they personally need Jesus, and simply announced the coming good rule of God redeeming all creation?

If we announced that God is bringing peace where there is war, reconciliation where there is racial bitterness, justice where there is oppression, life and health where there is sickness and death, AND mercy where there is guilt, and that He's doing it all through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and that Jesus is inviting all people to fulfill who they were meant to be by joining Him in that redemption...

Well, many would surely still be unconvinced. But at least we'd be answering the problems and concerns the world knows it's facing, instead of focusing on a karmic debt it doesn't know it has.

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