The Gospel in a Postmodern Context

Talk of "Contextualizing" the Gospel seems to be all the rage today. So I thought I would take a stab at some contextualization of my own.

Martin Luther once said (I paraphrase, sorry), if a preacher preaches the whole counsel of God except for that one tiny point that is under attack in his time, the preacher is as derelict in his duty as a soldier who has fled the battlefield entirely.

Proper Biblical contextualization is to preach the unchanging message targetted towards your audience, and in one sense, you must target it to their errors.

That said let's present the Gospel juxtaposed (contextualized) against the common false gospels of today. A Gospel can be false either by omission (leaving out a critical point), or by comission (explicitly denying or altering an essential point).

Nutshell summary of the Gospel.

Now lets compare that to some of the common gospels of today that sound good, but aren't, I indulge in mockery here, and suggest a "truth in advertising" tag line for each of these false gospels.

God loves you, just accept Him into your heart and your life will get better

This one is the most popular one out there today among those who still cling to the name "evangelical", mostly by redefining the term to mean the opposite of what it once meant. Instead of confronting sinners and urging them to repent, they appeal to the flesh and attempt to lure people into the Kingdom, as if appealing to the flesh could accomplish good.

Popularly called "Easy Believism" by its critics, its advertising tag line could go something like this:

Intoducing the gospel lite: less filling, less painful, and salvation-free!

Nothing is certain they cry, we cannot know any truth with absolute certainty, and to even believe we can is idolatrous arrogance, humility is best expressed by never being sure of anything. This is the Emergent rallying cry is it not? I confess I got the idea from Spurgeon, a nice tag line for this one would go something like this:

Introducing the Gospel for doubters: Salvation by Unbelief!

Have faith in Jesus, but you must also improve your life, salvation is not entirely free, you have to do your part.

A nice tag line for this Gospel would be:

Intoducing the do-it-yourself gospel: simple, easy, anyone can do it!

Health, Wealth, and Prosperity shall be Yours!

This is the gospel of the word-of-faith cult. And its tag line could go something like this:

Intoducing the genie of the Bible: All your wishes can come true, all you have to do is speak and believe (and give us all your money).

An alternate tag line could go like this:

Intoducing the final solution to all problems: Become your own God!

I like to caricature this one particularly harshly, I suppose I should admit I once believed in this one, and was a faithful cult member for a long time.

The Gospel is about removing "Hell" on earth, solving the problems mankind has today

I had a harder time coming up with a tag line for this one:

Intoducing the cure-all for social ills: peace, freedom (food, shelter, and medical care) for all!

Salvation is a "mystical" experience, about inner transformation and spiritual formation

A nice tag line for this would would go something like this:

Introducing the self-hypnotic gospel: You can feel grrrrrreat!

Some commonalities of the false Gospels


It is far less important if you think you know God, or what experiences you have had, or feelings you have felt, or miracles you have seen, than it is if you know the truth, and if God knows you.

The Biblical standard for what makes a true Christian can be boiled down to two items in my mind:

I encourage everyone to flee the wrath of God and these evil days, to come out of the world and remain unstained by it, to forget embracing culture and instead confront it for the sinful cesspool that it is.

Remember being reviled and persecuted for righteousness sake? That won't happen to the cultural contextualizers, and those who embrace sin and error, or appeal to the flesh (covetousness), for they are as lost and worldly as those they vainly pretend to save.

Date: March 2007