"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Gospel Passion

Recently a group of pastors and theologians met as part of The Gospel Coalition. From my vantage point (not being at the conference) it appears that the driving person behind this group is Dr. Donald (D. A.) Carson. Dr. Carson opened the conference with the message "What Is the Gospel?" from 1 Corinthians 15 (audio or video is available at the website). Dr. Carson states at the start of his message that the Bible

understands the gospel to be the embracing category that holds much of the whole Bible together and takes Christians from lostness, condemnation, alienation from God all the way through conversion, and discipleship, to the consummation, to resurrection bodies and the new heaven and the new earth."

Shortly after that Dr. Carson says:

Perhaps more common yet today is the tendency to assume the gospel, whatever that is, while devoting creative energy and passion to other issues - marriage, happiness, prosperity, evangelism, the poor, wrestling with Islam, bioethics, pressures of secularization, dangers on the left, dangers on the right - the list is endless. But this overlooks the fact that our hearers inevitably are drawn toward that about which we are most passionate. Every teacher knows that. My students are unlikely to learn all that I teach them. I've resigned myself to that for a long time. They are most likely to learn what I am excited about. If the gospel is merely assumed, while relatively peripherial issues ignite our passion, we will train a new generation to downplay the gospel and focus on the periphery. It is easy to sound prophetic from the margins. What is urgently needed is to be prophetic from the center. What is to be feared, in the famous words of T.S. Eliot, is that the center does not hold. Moreover if in fact we do focus on the gospel and understand it aright we shall soon see how this gospel, rightly understood, directs us how to think about and what to do about a vast array of other kinds of issues.

What then, about this blog? What do I focus on and what am I passionate about? I struggle at times to be passionate about the gospel (per Dr. Carson's definition above) and not just jumping into the latest intramural battles that seem so popular in the conservative church today.

What I want, using Dr. Carson's words, is to not get caught up in the periphery, but to speak from the center of our faith. If successful, then there will be nothing new here on this blog. This will be a relay station for a message that has been transmitted for millennia. I'm not the best relay station and I may not have the best range, but I want the signal to be clear. I want to encourage believers, bear witness to the lost, and defend the gospel when necessary.

I acknowledge that I have not always done so in the past, getting caught up in debates over matters about which we should not be expending much effort (matters of conscience). That is to say that I have been passionate about the periphery.

If your faith like my faith is in Jesus who died, was buried, and was raised on the third day, in Jesus who told His disciples that Scriptures speak of Him, then I encourage you by God's grace to reflect on those Scriptures and in doing so to make as much of Jesus as can. Then let us bear witness to Him with as an irenic spirit as possible in a ministry of reconciliaton.

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