Saturday, August 27, 2011

More on the Emergent gospel and social activism


I know some of you might wish this discussion would go away, but this was on my mind this morning and I just had to write it down.

Some forms of the Emergent gospel seem to indicate that the “gospel” is essentially living like Jesus; doing what Jesus did. Since the Good News indeed involves the coming Kingdom, it seems we usher in this Kingdom of peace and justice by living radically different and activistic lives, patterned after our Lord. But can a gospel that is fundamentally about what we do really be the gospel articulated in Scripture? Isn’t the point of the gospel, at least as it has been historically understood, that we can’t live like God requires and so need a savior?

And can an endless list of causes really be the essence of the mission of the church? Think of it this way: Instead of casting the many social causes in the usual negative light (“end sex trafficking”, “stop unjust labor practices”, “fight against irresponsible and unsustainable consumption”), what if those ideas were recast in a positive light? Would they still make sense? Try this: “Join the Campaign to get Everyone in the World to Love Each Other”. In my mind, such an appeal would soon collapse under the weight of its own absurdity if divorced from the obvious (to me) necessity of fundamental and supernatural heart change. This is why Jesus said “no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3).

The gospel is not about what we do, it’s about what was done on our behalf. What we do is the result of the gospel’s power in our lives.

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