Monday, April 09, 2007

The Gospel: What are we saying?

I haven't been online much lately (small surprise here) and it's difficult getting the momentum back up to post. However, I've been mulling over some things about the gospel lately and it's leading me into a post or two...maybe a mini-series. Here's the bottom line:

I struggle with evangelism at times because I feel like I don't know where to start. Sure, I get past it and realize that you just have to start somewhere, but that's not my point. My point is what is it exactly that we're to communicate? Sure, 1 Cor 15:1ff the life, death, ressurrection and lordship of Jesus, but how does that fit to contemporary culture. What is the point of contact to be made in contextualizing the Gospel for the 21st Century? I'm not sure I'm articulating the question I'm wrestling with clearly here, so rather than keep trying, I'll press on.

Vanhoozer's book The Drama of Doctrine has been helping me here (I'm still reading, I didn't meet my goal for a full book in March). He argues that the Christian life is performance; not in the Jerry Bridges sense (Bridges argues God doesn't treat us on the basis of our performance) but in the theatrical sense. It's an extended metaphor - the Bible is the Script, the Spirit the director, we live out the Christian life by "improvising" in a way appropriate to our Script. The Christian life is not just about knowing the right things, but ultimately living those truths out well. The Christian life is in this sense a performance of the Gospel. Thus, the message we are communicating in evangelism is the Lordship of Jesus over all of life (this last point is my own inference, not a proposition from Vanhoozer) or living in such a way that demonstrates the Lordship of Christ and evangelism is calling people to such a lifestyle. At this point, I'm inclined to weave in an inference from Wright on Renewed Humanity (see my previous posts here). In calling people to live out the Lordship of Christ in all of life we are calling them to be truly human, that is to image their Creator -- back to the image in which they were created.

All right there maybe some logical leaps here, I'm thinking out loud and not putting all my thoughts down. But my point is, as I thought through some of the implications I started to see parodies and perversions of such a life all over the place. The things that drive people are urges to fulfill some aspect of living well, acheiving success at being human, yet falling short of what is attempted. Hedonism, materialism, asceticism, egotism, all attempts at fulfillment of some urge that miss the mark of being truly human and ultimately end up in self-destructive lifestyles. The Gospel is a call to true humanity - renewed humanity. Enough rambling, I'll try and flesh this out in some ensuing posts, but these are not my final words on the matter; I'm still working through these things and would love some help.

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