On Evangelicalism

Evangelism, truly it is the calling of every Christian. My thought is the meaning of what “good news” (the gospel) sounds like.

A so named Evangelical may find his tradition told this way, largely because he knows no other traditional gospel message than his historically new one:

“I have good news for you! You are a terrible wretch by nature and the object of God’s wrath. But, the unconditional love of God can be yours on the condition that you believe Jesus is God but not God, he died but didn’t, and paid the price for the nature he gave you, but didn’t, and your salvation is entirely up to you, but isn’t, if you only choose to believe all of this, but can’t.”

Other than outrageous the more one inspects that “good news”, the more one finds the shallow basis for it and little good is found in it.

“I have good news for you! God loves you as you are, unconditionally. Neither you nor He will be happy however, until you have the fullest life possible. Through the life of Christ, we see how humanity is supposed to be and committing ourselves to living as he did is the way to that life. You are your own judge and God wants you to stop it. Live for others and love and you will have found yourself and God in the middle of it all and everything will have changed for you, for God, and for others. The only choice is not much of one: can your life have more meaning and can this way of being in the world provide it?”

Two very different and distinct gospels. It doesn’t matter whether or not anyone knows both views are scriptural, one is from Augustine or from Abelard, and so on. What matters is whether or not there’s good news in either, or in any of the dozen or so theories of atonement (which no Christian collectively agrees on). The story of the gospel you accept will be from a tradition basing theology on the problems you have for Christ to solve, be that fear of hell or the need of afterlives or be that existential angst and peace through “fitting in” to the human picture. All address purpose. All gospels, however they’re told, reduce to a purpose for you through a belief about the purpose of Jesus of Nazareth. There is no dogma for this man that has not been man-made long after his death.

What is a matter of fact is any gospel can be good news to someone else, but only if the story you’re telling is literally good news as they see it.

Culturally today with the decline of Evangelicalism proper, it’s easy to note that fewer people find its story good, and more and more, find it actually morally and intellectually bankrupt. The solution isn’t to be sectarian and damn the world for not getting it. It is for the Evangelical Christian to realize his is a tradition of thought and belief among many varied Christian thoughts and beliefs where many collide and clash often in total disagreement; each appealing to the same scriptures, showing only more so that either is indeed following a tradition of interpretation rather than some certain, propositional, unassailable truth.

Honestly, when society doesn’t have the “problem” of heaven and hell — which hell, fire, and damnation preachers of the 20 century actually removed by making it meaningless themselves, much like hearing Adele’s “Hello” continually played on every radio station, but for generations rather than a month or two — then hearing “Jesus died and rose again!” is only good news for Jesus.

At this crossroads in the entire body of Christ, it’s time to revisit very, very old songs that sung now, will seem completely new; finding a home because it is actually relevant again to the problems people really have today.

Just a thought.

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

4 thoughts on “On Evangelicalism

  1. campeador says:

    Steven:

    Thanks for making me think about these matters. My first thought is that we we humans will necessarily tie ourselves up in verbal knots when discussing any concept that transcends the scope of our words, i.e., practically any concept that we care to discuss, but certainly that of God, which Jesus is, and (and you pointed out) isn’t.

    Without touching on any of the various excellent points which you made as to Jesus’ nature and attributes, I’ll just cut to the chase: And what sharper instrument to cut with than Occam’s Razor? Here is my ‘simple’ explanation of the “good news”:

    In the person of Jesus, mankind’s long ascent from the primeval ooze reaches a new level of experience: We are, indeed, God’s children; and the mere positing of such kinship is transformative. To paraphrase Descartes: I believe, therefore I am. The Christian miracle is believing in the reality of kinship with God. Jesus worked that miracle, opened the door, and we followed him thorough. We didn’t need pyramids and burial chambers to aspire to the afterlife. Christ democratized the afterlife! Jesus Christ believed in and lived the miracle of human divinity. And as he was human and achieved such divinity, other humans could also aspire to the transformation – if only they believe!

    But of course, such simplicity is wholly lacking in the fantastical elements which humans require of their eschatology. So ‘we’ dressed it up ‘a bit’ to convince the less imaginative that here, indeed, was a true miracle: Virgin birth, resuscitation, transubstantiation, Triune Deity, and many, many more ‘bells and whistles’. As not every ‘believer’ ‘believes’ every enhancement, this has made for much confusion among the ‘faithful’, to say nothing of the pogroms and genocides perpetrated in the name of the “Son of God”. Maybe it’s time to ‘err on the side of simplicity’: Let Occam’s Razor cut the Gordian Knot (how’s that for mixing metaphors) of counterproductive mumbo-jumbo surrounding the mystery of Christian salvation. Cut it, I say! It’s not worth unravelling.

    Just saying.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: