Monday, March 29, 2010

The gospel question; what is the gospel?

We are looking a little deeper into the gospel question. We mentioned Brian McLaren’s new book A New Kind of Christianity because one of the ten questions he asks is what is the gospel? Here is a quote from the book, chapter 14, page 139:
“Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion….Instead, he came to announce a new kingdom, a new way of life, a new way of peace that carried good news to every religion. A new kingdom is much bigger than a new religion, and it has room for many religious traditions within it. This good news wasn’t simply about a new way to solve the religious problems of ontological fall and original sin (problems, remember once more, that arise centuries later and within a different narrative all together). It wasn’t simply information about how individual souls could leave earth, avoid hell, and ascend to heaven after death. No it was about God’s will being done on earth as in heaven for all people.”
This sounds very good at first read… well, probably not to die hard evangelicals but, that aside, there is truth in this excerpt. My problem with it arises from what I see as a complete dismissal of the religious problem of the ontological fall and original sin. And, while I agree that Jesus came to announce a new kingdom and way of life, a way of peace for people of every religion… I think that the all important way in which the kingdom can properly progress is found precisely in the unique solution to the ontological fall and original sin problem that Jesus provided. Just because the ontological fall and sin problem wasn’t acknowledge in Judaism and spoken of specifically that way in the new testament writings does not mean that it was not there.
The question of whether or not humanity is essentially fallen is important. For me, original sin is found in humanity as the result of mortality and the knowledge of good and evil (the ability to determine what is right or wrong). I am one that believes that humanity, with all of its knowledge and compassion is essentially fallen….there is a pathology that manifests itself in greed… it is part of the survival instinct. History seems to bear out this condition. Education alone does not seem to improve mankind spiritually. I don’t know that I would go so far as to say that we are spiritually dead but, if not, we are very close.
I see redemption as a necessity. It can only come through our faith in the grace and the mercy of God. Reconciliation to God is important and after all, if humanity was not fallen… if there was no condition that could be attributed to the ontological fall and original sin, then there would be no reason for reconciliation. When Paul speaks of the ministry of reconciliation he is of necessity saying that there was a fall and that original sin is a problem. It is birthed as the result of our mortality. Whether one looks at the Genesis three account as settled fact or allegory it does not matter. The fact remains that the results of mortality is the source of sin. I find it interesting that one of the most obnoxious sins in the view of evangelical Christianity is sexual sin. The source of this particular sin is founded in lust, greed and the procreation process.
Next we will look at how the gospel deals with human pathology… but first we must define the gospel. The question; what is the gospel… is very necessary.

1 comment:

  1. To your comment on education alone does not seem to improve mankind spiritually; sometimes I think we are just too smart for our own britches. I am not saying that we are not to study to show ourselves approved; what I am saying is when we get the knowledge and the education some of us think that we are smarter than God. We don't need God any longer, because we have our degrees. So now our knowledge takes the place of our faith in God. It becomes the story of how I have pulled myself up by MY boot straps , and we tend to forget how God made a way out of no way for us.

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