Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cross-less Preaching and the Gospel

A little rushed this morning. My going-into-kindergarten daughter has some sort of "entrance exam" at school this morning, so in getting her and myself ready, I lack the time to compose something original in this space. (Maybe this afternoon.)

But here's something good to chew on from one of my favorite blogs, GospelDrivenLife:
A friend of mine attended a worship service not too long ago and made this simple comment: The message was given and there was a strong invitation to receive Christ but there had been no discussion of Jesus death on the cross for sin. That is frightening at best . . . .

When I think of all the battles there are to fight, the top of the stack is this: to make sure the Gospel is explained clearly and understandably in any evangelistic context. I do not think it is a minor issue. I think it is quite common for things to be vague. If even my few visits to other churches is a skewed selection or the messages I have heard on tape are not an accurate sampling, I know this -- there is very little clear Gospel explanation in what I have heard. I have heard a truncated, therapeuticized Gospel -- I have heard protracted pushes for people to invite Jesus into their hearts -- but I have not heard thoughtful explanations of the Gospel . . .

The fruit is simple: hundreds of "decisions" and few "disciples" --a whole generation thinks this is normal because this practice has become so common. I am not talking about making saving faith difficult or requiring people to memorize Romans to be invited to faith -- but . . . I must be a faithful shepherd of souls and make sure they understand the Gospel as much as possible. And that is where the call of God lies -- for pastors and evangelists to be examples of careful preaching and the care of souls.

Tom Schreiner, in a recent issue of the Southern Baptist Theological Journal, notes the same:
Our ignorance of biblical theology surfaces constantly. I can think of two occasions in the last ten years or so (one in a large stadium by a speaker whose name I cannot recall) where a large crowd was gathered and people were invited to come forward to receive Christ as Savior. The sermon in the stadium was intended to be an evangelistic sermon, but I can honestly say that the gospel was not proclaimed at all. Nothing was said about Christ crucifi ed and risen, or why he was crucifi ed
and risen. Nothing was said about why faith saves instead of works. Thousands came forward, and were no doubt duly recorded as saved. But I scratched my head as to what was really happening, and prayed that at least some were truly being converted.


. . . [T]he Gospel is content. We believe the truth not a Jesus of our own making.

Peace.

26 Comments:

At 7:10 AM, Blogger Phil said...

It's the difference between admirers of Jesus or adherents to some ideas about him, rather that true disciples of his.

As another perspective, while I agree that the salvific nature of the Cross needs to be preached, we also need to preach the power of Resurrection, both in Jesus and in our daily lives as we die to ourselves. Plus, I think while it needs to be Scripturally based, we need to be able to do it without referring to Scripture references. More and more of the culture do not recognize the Bible as trustworthy and authoritative. So we need to be able to tell the story and have it be Biblically based, but not necessarily quote Book, Chapter, and Verse to someone who have that context.

 
At 9:00 AM, Anonymous kw said...

Whether you are criticizing a man or a style, it seems apparent what the purpose of this site is intended to do.
keith

 
At 9:14 AM, Anonymous Michele said...

But KW, he says he isn't. RIIIIIGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHTTTTT. Read last paragraph, in comments, the gospel of community. Says it all.

 
At 9:40 AM, Anonymous Jonathan Davis said...

His position on this has been clear from the beginning, and he has never claimed otherwise, so I do not know why you are acting surprised...but by the way, he does have some legitimate points. DF did have a lot of anger issues that needed to be dealt with. Not only that, but his strictly seeker methods do deserve criticism since there was nothing there for more mature christians

 
At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Michele said...

Jonathan,
The point was that he said he wanted to stop focusing on DF.

 
At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Jonathan Davis said...

As to the post, I could not agree more. The blood of Jesus is not preached today, repentance is not preached today, the fact that we need to repent is not preached today either. This seeker oriented church movement is close to being un-biblical even though it is very popular. This morning I was listening to a Joel Osteen podcast where he was talking about not being moody. This really has nothing to do with salvation, or the blood, or anything like that..yet..at the end, he made a salvation call..no foundation was laid..no nothing..so anyone who did pray that prayer may not have known what they were praying..so you have people who believe they are saved, but are not, and that is NOT a good thing.

 
At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Jonathan Davis said...

Michelle, in his posts, he has not..he only responded to an anonymous question.

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger Jared said...

I did say I wasn't going to focus on Dr. Foster. I never said I'd never mention him again. In fact, I've said more than once, directly to both KW and Michele, that talking about this stuff will necessitate from time to time, mentioning Dr. Foster.

You really have two options: Read more carefully, or find another blog to hang out on.

 
At 9:58 AM, Anonymous kw said...

I would rather know what someone is for rather than what someone is against. Pardon my being so cynical, but I believe this site has the same purpose as the cottage meetings. You need not look any further than the BCC weekly budget to see why all this is happening.
keith

 
At 10:02 AM, Blogger Jared said...

Rather than beat around the bush, why don't you just accuse me of whatever you think I'm doing? Especially since I don't know what you're talking about.

The purpose of this site (now) is to talk about issues of spirituality and ecclesiology that I think are important to BCC's forward movement.

I don't know how you haven't gathered what I'm for yet, but I'll spell it out to you so you can stop looking for the "hidden meaning" in it all:

I am for proclaming Jesus Christ dead and risen again for the rescue of hurting, hopeless, and lost people. I am for explaining that the Gospel is for sinners, which includes me and you. I am for a church that leads with the message of redemption and is about cultivating disciples of Jesus.

I am for BCC being what God calls a church to be, for BCC being a city on a hill in our community and in our city.

If you think I want otherwise, explain why you think so. Actually quoting me would be helpful, as well, since what you guess I'm doing doesn't impress me.

 
At 10:20 AM, Anonymous Michele said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:36 AM, Anonymous kw said...

Sorry for being so vague. I think the purpose of this Blog and the elder's cottage meetings are to halt the flow of people leaving BCC. Like I said, just look at the BCC weekly budget. It seems that you would like people to believe that YOUR way is the correct way and (so it seems to me) you try to prove your point by discrediting other people or other styles. I said " I would rather know what someone is FOR rather than what someone is AGINST." Most of the comments you make are focusing on converting people to your way of thinking or discrediting their beliefs. All blog comments, that do not agree with you, seem very combative. Perhaps you are just trying out for the new Lead Pastors position at BCC and you are spelling out your vision. Yes this is only my opinion, If you don't want comments I suggest you remove the comments link from this site.
keith
I cant seem to find my favorite quote of yours..........the one on a previous comment on this site........where you said that you would like to catch another blogger in a dark alley because of his comments about Randy Thompson.
Now that was a classy quote...can you find it for me or has it been removed?

 
At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think deleting a comment because its inflammatory or abusive is the correct move. Deleting because you disagree with the comment is just childish.

 
At 11:07 AM, Blogger Jared said...

I think the purpose of this Blog [is] to halt the flow of people leaving BCC.

Hmm. Well, I don't how to disprove that other than to say it's not true. But I can't disprove what your feeling about me is.

I mean, I realize people are going to leave BCC, but I'm not overly concerned about that. I don't think I've even mentioned that on this site. It's not something I'm worried about, and if you want to know the truth, part of me wonders whether the people who would leave over this thing are people the church needs anyway. I know that sounds harsh -- and it is -- but my view of church is not a bunch of people who like a speaker, so if we lose those people, I think it might be to the better health of the church.

As for the budget, I haven't looked at it, and I'm not all that concerned about it either. There's a reason I don't talk about money all that much here, despite people continuing to ask me to post on Foster's salary or the audit information, and it's because I don't really care about money.

It seems that you would like people to believe that YOUR way is the correct way and (so it seems to me) you try to prove your point by discrediting other people or other styles.

This is so weird, to put it that way. I mean, obviously I think the stuff I post as being correct is what I think is correct. Why would I post stuff I didn't believe?
Obviously I'd like BCC to become a more biblicaly, more healthy church, so I'm going to post on those subjects and hope people will agree with me. You post that like it's some nefarious scheme or conspiracy. It's nothing I'm hiding. I'll say it clearly: I want BCC to be a biblical church, I am posting some ideas on how it can get better focused along those lines, and I hope people will agree with me.

It's no skin off my back if they don't. I haven't attended BCC for 9 years because I desperately need people to do things my way. I don't get into church to have my will be done.

As for discrediting people and styles:
Well, I don't know how to talk about what happened without talking about what happened. If you figure out how to do that, please let me know.
I don't know what "styles" I'm discrediting, but if you mean a Gospel that leaves out what the Bible puts in, then, yeah, I'm against that. Won't apologize for that.

But if you're talking about speaking styles or music styles or whatever, I don't know where you're going. I've said more than once Foster's teaching attracted us to the church and kept us. I don't know why I have to keep repeating that, but I guess I can't help if some folks want to think I'm doing this out of personal animosity against the man. I even wrote a post titled "Why I Like Dr. Foster."

You know, you can say someone did something wrong and say the consequences of that thing are necessary without that equating to hating (or the commenters' favorite, "judging") the person.

Most of the comments you make are focusing on converting people to your way of thinking or discrediting their beliefs.

Do you mean comments, or posts? I post on the things I think important.
When someone disagrees, I try to respond. I don't see how that's such an odd concept. Unless you think I should convert to others' disagreement, but they shouldn't convert to mine. Or something like that.
I don't get it. Conversation usually involves talking to people, and even if we can't agree, we can do so civily and charitably. Getting called judgmental and being told I'm a know-it-all is not conversation. It's someone insulting me and then blaming me for not wanting to converse with them any more.

Perhaps you are just trying out for the new Lead Pastors position

This is the second time someone's asked me that. I'll answer it a second time: I don't want to be the church's lead pastor. (Now a teachig pastor offer, I'd consider. ;-)
But I have absolutely no designs on being in charge of BCC. I've said that once already and I've said in another main page post that it's not in my DNA to be in charge.

You can think I'm lying, if you want, but how sad is it that a churchgoer can't talk about important spiritual issues without being accused of career aspirations. Only pastors are allowed to talk theology?

I suggest you remove the comments link from this site

No, comments are enabled because I encourage conversation. In doing so I recognize this will be inviting to people who like to "talk" but really don't care to dialogue. I am doing my best to weed those folks out of the mix, since irresponsible speech is unhelpful.

I cant seem to find my favorite quote of yours..........the one on a previous comment on this site........where you said that you would like to catch another blogger in a dark alley because of his comments about Randy Thompson.
Now that was a classy quote...can you find it for me or has it been removed?


No, it's still there. I left it there so no one would think I was trying to hide my mistakes. I even said that to the person who commented on that line first in that post.
Intersting the stuff I've written you do remember, contrasted with the stuff you seem to conveniently forget.

In that post, I acknowledged that line was unthoughtful and unhelpful. I said it was wrong and I apologized for it.

You're a big fan of forgiveness, aren't you?

Thanks for your comment, KW. At least allows me to clarify the purpose of this site, even if you continue to think I'm being dishonest about it. That's your preogative, anyway.

Peace.

 
At 11:09 AM, Blogger Jared said...

I think deleting a comment because its inflammatory or abusive is the correct move. Deleting because you disagree with the comment is just childish.

There's lots of comments on this site I disagree with, including some from "anti-Foster" folks. That alone should disprove your appraisal of my moderating approach.

Here's what's really childish, though: Returning time and time again after you've been asked to leave.
Grown-ups know how to leave when their host tells them it's time to go.

 
At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Jonathan Davis said...

Jared,

Why are you moderating the comments so closely now? There does not really seem to be a need for that, unless as the previous poster said is irrelevant or infammatory, or something like that..so why did you enable comment moderation and delete two posts on this thread?

 
At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Jonathan Davis said...

Not only that, but you have not responded in dialogue to a lot of the thoughtful posts I have made in the last couple of days....

 
At 11:43 AM, Blogger judas icarus said...

Wow, I had decided to not stop in here anymore... or at least not for a while.... and looky here! Man, I am really amazed at how people can so easily fall into the: "Do as I say, not as I do" mode.

Jared,
The bible says that the Truth will offend and... obviously the Truth is being shared here based on the number of people who are seemingly offended by it... (as well as a very good running commentary on what has happened at BCC and where BCC might go), so, keep up the good work and keep the faith.

I thought I had made many good points as well as developing a specific case I thought needed expressed and confirmed and in the process I discovered that I was sharing was viewed as offensive to several folks who have dropped by here.

Oh well, such is the nature of trying to communicate reason, sound logic and truth. It's never popular. But, ain't it funny how some others that are communicating a diluted and bible-lite message are popular. I wonder why that is? Well, I don't actually wonder why... I just wonder when the truth will actually set those who buy into "power talk" free!

Hang in there, man. You have a difficult task in trying to reason with the unreasonable and communicate what is incommunicable to some. : - )

Let those with ears, hear...
Let those with eyes, see...

Ain't that what the Word says?

Kind regards,

C. Evan Leonard

 
At 12:01 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Why are you moderating the comments so closely now?

I'm hoping it's a temporary fix, and I can turn off moderation as soon as someone who was asked to leave stops trying to post pointless comments.

I don't expect everyone to understand, but I've been blogging for almost four years, and at the beginning I tried to reason with argumentative people until the cows came home and in the end it only ended up detracting from the purpose of blogging and the purpose of commenting. I have learned enough since then to know a little leeway is good, but once someone starts ignoring your pleas to alter their behavior, you have to nip the stuff in the bud.

Jonathan, I have tried to respond to your comments, but I hope you will understand that other, more pushy folks have kept me busy, and also that I'm a pretty busy guy. Last night was hectic for me and I was out for a good bit this morning taking my daughter to her first kindergarten screening and then both my girls to the library.

You do make thoughtful comments, and I will do my best now to redirect myself to them and respond as best I can. I appreciate your patience, brother.

 
At 12:06 PM, Blogger judas icarus said...

so, no room for exhortation....?

I thought I was exhortating....you? : - )

Sorry, I just dropped by to check in and saw the cacophony and felt commenting on the nature of what the bible says about truth/christians... and how they can and do offend.

Perhaps that's something better served in a post by you.

Take care... hope all is well with you and your family.

C. Evan Leonard
cevanleonard@mac.com

 
At 12:18 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Chuck, I don't understand your last comment.
But I feeeeeel your exhortating, brutha-man! ;-)

Seriously, though, this moderation thing gets wonky compounded not just by my needing to approve a comment (which delays its publication if I'm, say, at the park with my daughters or cleaning the house or using the bathroom ;-), but also apparently by Blogger's weird email notification. There were at least twelve comments that had been on the blog all morning that I never received by email until the afternoon. What I mean is, I checked emails this morning and a few times since then, but it took Blogger half a day to email me notice of some comments. So unless I'm going through every thread looking for new comments, which I do sometimes but not as often as I rely on email to let me know when someone's commented, my response may be delayed.

So I realize some comments are slipping through the cracks, and I plead innocent to purposefully ignoring all of them! ;-)

I know moderating only complicates dialogue right now, but until I can be sure folks get the point about helpful dialogue, I, along with the rest of you, will have to make do. I hope it's temporary too.

 
At 12:28 PM, Blogger judas icarus said...

Cool....!

I just was trying to suggest that maybe you might share a post about how the truth (biblical truth) and full-bore christians will offend the world or those in the world that cannot handle the Truth.

What I'm seeing in much of what is going on in these various posts... is people being offended by the truth. You aren't pulling this stuff out of your shorts! You're sharing the Truth from the Word and people are getting way too sideways and offended by it.... but ain't that what Jesus said would happen?

So, I really appreciate the heat you are taking in an effort to keep a running commentary going.... on what has happened at BCC and where BCC might go from here.

It's just seems so many people have a one-eye understanding of the bible.... and some people who think they are "saved" very well may be.... but they ain't fully there regarding understanding God's word.

Again.... exhortations! You got a lot of stamina, patience, tolerance and love for your fellow man/woman.

And, I wish some of these folks would go back and read your The Gospel of...... (wait for it)...... PATIENCE! : - )

God's best to you and yours, Jared....

(Don't forget where that delete key is, either!!!!!!)
C. Evan Leonard

 
At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Jonathan Davis said...

Chuck,

The thing is, truth is in the eye of the beholder sometimes, and in this particular case, there are people who cannot talk rationally because they are so wrapped up emotionally on the DF side of things, so its not that Jared is always spot on on the analysis, its that people are making up agendas because of their over hyped emotional state...

 
At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Nathan said...

As to "cross-less" preaching, consider also preaching that is devoid of more than lip-service to developing a vibrant relationship with the Lord. Yeah, the Lord part.

Jesus told us that many will call his name, but he won't recognize them.

Now, that is downright frightening considering the "say this prayer, sign a paper" Christian culture we are so exposed to.

Man, a relationship is a pursuit that so many of us ( me included )
can be so distracted from.

I think Satan's greatest pleasure is cloaking his lies with just enough truth to give people a false sense of reality. That's why we need Bible, Bible, and more Bible in our Churches and our daily lives. "Bereans are us."

In this area I was literally fleeing from BCC several years ago. Grant it I witnessed changed lives there that are bearing great fruit now. I also witnessed a laziness and contentment with playing Church that is totally compatible with the so called "religion" we were pointed to in traditional Churches.

Accountability was simply not encouraged in many of it's forms.

I pray that the Elders truly seek a teaching Pastor instead of another speaker. Some of thier presentation was encouraging in this area.

 

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