~ 23 May 2004 ~

The Dangers of Segmenting the Gospel

A common tendency of evangelicals is to zero in on one issue in theology, ministry, or cultural engagement, and devote an exhaustive amount of effort and energy toward this issue. Often, in the exuberance of addressing a particular soapbox or hobby horse, all other issues are neglected. What results is a lopsided Christianity that is deficient in many areas.

This is why I appreciate Ken Myers of the Mars Hill Audio Journal so much. He seeks to even up this imbalance examining the truth that the Gospel has implications that overflow into all our lives. In a recent fund raising letter [PDF copy], Myers writes:

One doesn’t have to look very closely to realize that the Great Commission is not a message about evangelism and conversions, but about discipleship and the continuity of obedience in all things. When we look at the whole of the message of the Bible, we see something much bigger than a message only about personal renewal and piety. Jesus did not come to teach, suffer,die, and rise again so that we could have comforting insights for living; he comes to bring about a new creation, that is, a radically realigned pattern of life over the whole world and in the concrete experiences of all human endeavors.

Myers’ assessment of evangelism is a good example. We evangelicals too often concentrate on “getting out the message” when the real imperative in the Great Commission is to “make disciples.” While the message must be delivered, that is not the extent of the commission. Getting the message out at the expense of making disciples would be counterintuitive.

Another area where evangelicals need to be careful is the attack upon the “gay marriage” phenomenon. While I can’t stress enough that this is a battle that needs to be (and must be!) fought, we cannot allow this one issue to distract us from other and greater challenges.

We must never allow the battle against same-sex marriage to supercede the daily battle we all face to order our lives in a Godward manner. If this battle is lost, Christ’s bearing upon the same-sex marriage issue has little meaning to the outside world. Let us be careful not to make the prohibition of gay unions become the sole purpose of Christianity.

For that matter, we should be wary when any “sole purpose” of the Gospel is proclaimed. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is comprehensive, redeeming all of our lives.

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1 Comments:

  1. Kyle » 25 May 2004:

    Just a sidebar – you probably know this: While the Great Comission in Matthew very clearly says to “make disciples”, in Mark, it simply says “preach my gospel”, to every creature, no less. So there is an aspect of pure proclaimation. The trouble seems to be that what people are proclaiming, many times, isn’t anything but a sliver of the whole gospel.

    I agree with you, though, the gospel is comprehensive. It results in a complete transformation of the human condition. 🙂

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