Thursday, February 23, 2006

Do We Know What the Gospel Is?

I have never found it in the requirements that Paul lays out in 1 Timothy, but I am almost certain that a degree of melancholy must come with the office of Overseer. Usually, it strikes on Mondays, but sometimes it does not raise its head until Thursday. It may be because pastors tend to think too much and read too much. You can dig up all sorts of discouraging nuggets out there if you read enough.

For example, yesterday I was perusing the magazine Homelife. It is a LifeWay publication that we get at Church. I am sort of an obsessive-compulsive reader. I cannot even eat my cereal without reading the cereal box. I have probably read the cartoon on the back of the Honey Nut Cheerios box forty times now. So being tired of reading about the adventures of Buzz the Honey Bee and his sticky fastball, I picked up Homelife. On page 13 of this month's edition, I found an interview with Dick Staub. I have no idea who Dick Staub is except that he is a commentator on the radio and on pop culture.

All was going well with this short interview, until I came to the last question that the interviewer asked. Here's the question:

It's becoming 'en vogue' to use pop culture references to present the Gospel ('The Matrix' or the Force from 'Star Wars'). Do we pollute the pure message of Christ with metaphors that aren't necessarily godly?

My head almost spun right off my neck. The words present the gospel are very specific words. This is what it means to present the gospel:

Brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you...For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 1, 3-4).

The Matrix does not fit that bill by any stretch of the imagination. And the Force from Star Wars??! It is a wonder I didn't choke on my Cheerios. Is this what the average evangelical thinks it means to present the gospel?

Let me be absolutely clear about something: "The Chronicles of Narnia" did not present the gospel; "The Matrix" did not present the gospel; Star Wars did not present the gospel; "The Lord of the Rings" did not present the gospel. Not that these were bad movies or that they have no value, but they certainly did not present the gospel. If you do not mention Christ by name, or His atoning death, or His glorious resurrection, and that it is through this "by which also you are saved," you have not presented the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:2).

We may use these things as conversation starters, but let's not mistake those things for a gospel presentation. Nobody ever got saved just by watching Star Wars, and nobody ever will.

There, I have gotten that off of my chest. If the person who did that interview, by some weird reason, happens to read this article, well, you should know better. Your editor should know better. Dick Staub should have corrected you. For now, I think I'll return to reading the back of cereal boxes and the exciting adventures of Buzz the Honeybee.


Tad Thompson said...

Right on the money! I do not have a problem using pop culture to illustrate various points - but to call them gospel metaphors, etc. is way off. One of our biggest problems is we are not preaching the gospel anymore.

vonbora said...

Amen. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed "Narnia," but it was not Scripture. I think we try to conform to the world too much. I like your site, by the way. God bless!

BugBlaster said...

The gospel is apparently not exciting enough for the sophisticated people of today. It needs an angle.

Too much packaging and not enough preaching...

A side question; we used to use Lifeway teen sunday school curriculum but they changed it all about five years ago and went from a format that worked through a sectoin of the Bible to a topical format, which we didn't like. We stopped using them and we're no longer on the mailing list. Do you know if they still stick to the topical stuff in their curriculums?