reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Gospel: a good idea

posted by Little Mo | Permalink |
This rather thinly veiled attack on apologetics by Glen got me thinking. It didn't quite sit with me and I couldn't work out why.

And then I realised, it is, yet again, all about doctrine of creation. So, the Gospel is not a good idea, a "worldview amongst worldviews" (apparently) it is in a totally different spiritual category: "good news." A spiritual, other-worldly category, totally different from the ideas of this world.

My problem with this is that it is a diminution of the Gospel. Truly the Gospel is more than a good idea. But that doesn't mean it isn't a good idea. It is more than a worldview, but nevertheless it is the best worldview because it is God's very own view of the world. Surely the Gospel appears foolish to us, that does not mean it actually IS foolish!

This idea, that if you can only preach "good news" not the Gospel's worldview, is dependent on the wrong assumption that the Gospel works on us entirely in a different way to any other discussion. God works outside our normal way of thinking, of logic, of relationship to bring us to Jesus, rather like magic words the Gospel "good news" separate from everything else I think, brings me to God. One wonders why it is necessary to use sentences people can understand at all - may as well just insert the words "Jesus is Lord" anywhere into the following collection: pig, sheep, house, car, McDonalds. Sure people won't understand, but an appeal to their understanding is apparently intellectual pelagianism.

No, the Gospel is a message, revealed in words, that through the power of God's Spirit we can be persuaded of and understand. It truly does explain the reality that we see around us. It is much more than a good idea, but it is really a good idea too.


Anonymous Bobby Grow said...


But creation cannot understand God apart from Christ. This whole issue has much broader implications like how one views "Natural Theology" or non-Natural Theology. Sounds like you prefer the former.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Little Mo said...

Bobby, I'm not talking about understanding apart from Christ. Quite the opposite - I'm talking about explaining creation through the lens of Christ.

The issue is if we "understand Christ" in a totally different non-natural way to the way we understand everything else.

Are the words a magic key, or do we understand the proclamation of the Gospel using our faculties as people? Does the Spirit act on us separately to our normal modes of thinking?

2:01 AM  
Anonymous Stephen Mace said...

As our understanding is darkened and the things of God make no sense to us, we do need a work of the Spirit that supernaturally enables us to acknowledge our corruption according to the law and our need for Christ. So the words are not magic, but they are spirit and they are life, meaning that their reception is not natural in the sense that it is not normal for the natural man. Apologetics is interesting for opening someone up to listen to the Gospel, and the Spirit may use it; but without law and gospel applied by the Spirit in a way that overcomes the bonded will, we are lost (References: John 15-16, John 6, 1 Corinthians 2, Luther's Vom unfreien Willen).

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Bobby Grow said...


I don't like thinking in the binary terms that you are setting out. We, I think need to see ourselves grounded in Christ's vicarious humanity by the Holy Spirit.

Mo you say:

Are the words a magic key, or do we understand the proclamation of the Gospel using our faculties as people? Does the Spirit act on us separately to our normal modes of thinking?

Yes and No. First off, I don't know what you mean by "normal modes of thinking." Are those the modes that crucified the "Lord of glory?" I would say that is man's normal mode of thinking. Your second question seems to anticipate that response, good! No, the Spirit does not act on us separately, instead it's corporately --- in Christ's humanity. We need to be "recreated," which means that 'normal modes' of thinking are out . . . thus the spiritual man can discern spiritual things. So maybe just No, to your questions.

Personally, I like to argue with pagans; and I've "won" the arguements many times. But, they're still not saved. When we get passed all that so-called intellectualist stuff (one of man's gods); it still all boils down to a moral thing, and issue of the heart. I was able to lead one guy to the Lord a few yrs ago now; at first he wanted to debate all of this worldview stuff (I was happy to oblige). But after all that was said and done, what got him; what he was really interested in was Jesus --- he just didn't want to deal with that at first.

I think ontology precedes epistemology (not vice versa). And I think both of these realities (objective/subjective to be crude) are grounded in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.

My only beef with you, I think, is that you seem to be of the camp that says: "God precedes logic ontologically, but logic precedes God epistemologically." Am I right?

12:31 PM  
Blogger Little Mo said...


I don't think you have pegged me.

I do think God precedes logic epistmologically - in that it takes an act of God to open our eyes.

My worry is when we restrict that preaching of the Gospel to "preaching a pure Gospel" whatever that is, which works on us in some sort of mystical way, separate to normal human categories of thinking.

What that leads to IME, is careless disconnected evangelism, addressing questions people aren't asking with words they don't understand but believing we can be counted as faithful because we "preached the Gospel".

3:00 AM  

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