Thinking Out Loud

September 26, 2015

Some People Want Their Gospel Served A Certain Way

So it all started when our friends at Flagrant Regard posted this graphic image on Facebook.

Ligon Duncan on Preaching the Gospel

At first, I kinda tensed up because Ligon Duncan is very highly revered among traditional Reformers and New Calvinists alike. You’re very likely to see him speaking at things like the Together for the Gospel Conference. So my immediate reaction was, if he hates it, I’m probably for it.

So I was pleased when some people I know immediately weighed in, the first being my wife:

There are a few places in the Bible where God says he reveals himself, wordlessly, through creation. If he can do that, he can certainly show who he is through our grace and love and giving. It’s our job to then answer when asked, and to speak when the opportunities arise. Maybe the problem is the word ‘preach’, which can be narrowly interpreted by some. It might be better to ‘live’ the gospel. This quote strikes me as being a melodramatic over-correction to people who never speak Jesus at all.

The next was our friend Carol:

It seems, understanding the Biblical intent initiated by St.Francis d’Assisi in the top statement, one would see the incongruity of the the second. When Jesus said to Peter “Feed my sheep”, he did not expect Peter to run out and give hay to a flock of sheep. His intention was more inclining to nurture persons to learn of God’s love through actions and example. “Nurture” and “Nourish” come from the same Latin verb root “nutrire” so actual giving of food is not excluded But St.Francis seemed to be alluding to the spiritual side. We can “preach” the Gospel without words by our actions and attitudes toward others. Matt.5:16 “Let your light so shine……..”. Mark 12:31 “Love thy neighbor…..”. Matt. 6:14-15 “For if you forgive…..”. + many many more examples. These, to me, seem to portray the concept to which St. Francis was alluding.

These 2 statements do not belong together !!!

To that, I say a hearty “Amen.” (We’re not sure if St. Francis of Assisi gets the credit for this, though; but that detail is trivial.)

But on the FB page from which my friends at FR obtained the graphic, there was some support.

I’ve heard the above-the-plate nonsense spewed by evangelicals. You have to wonder just how this anti-biblical Pabulum made it into the mainstream?

Notice the difference in the tone of that remark versus the two above. But even there, this comment:

…The meaning though isn’t that you should never preach, but that your actions toward others should be consistent with the Gospel. It’s a paradoxical statement meant to make a deeper point.

For my part, the quotation appeared in my Twitter feed:

Ligon Duncan quote exchange with Eric Carpenter
I suggested reading the two responses at Flagrant Regard, and got the answer you see above. I looked up the person with whom I found myself in this rather heated exchange (that’s not my usual style) and noted that they seemed to have an affinity to other writers that would tend to want to support Ligon Duncan at all costs. We have an earlier blog post here devoted to the fact it is in the nature of people within a certain doctrinal strand to protect the brand at all costs.

But alas, the doctrinal strand to which I refer is a version of Christianity that is all about words, and words only. To their credit, these are the people who founded many Christian publishing companies. To their detriment, these are the people who dominate the Christian internet with their cheering for the home team and endless re-blogging of articles written by their heroes in that movement.

For me it always comes back to the rhetorical question, “Why are there no Salvation Army bloggers?” (Actually there are a small few.) The answer to the question is, “While everybody else is writing about it, they’re out doing it.” I raised that point in this post, where I also noted that those on one particular side of the fence seem to have a militant wing that doesn’t exist on the other side. Worse, this internet domination and barrage of words often becomes the only thing people see.

I guess the thing that ticked me off the most, was the guy in the above exchange on Twitter saying, “Sorry, but I don’t have time to read rebuttals.” Reminds me of the number of bloggers in that same doctrinal system who no longer accept comments.

I just fail to see anyone would be attracted to that brand of Christianity.

Ligon Duncan is not one of my spiritual heroes. I’m not part of that movement, he doesn’t speak for me, though I did take some time to listen to him in one of the T4G live feeds in the interest of open-mindedness. His remark may make for a nice Twitter or Facebook graphic, but it’s a great adventure in missing the point. It has an air of logic and spirituality but is actually a giant put-down of people who don’t fit his extremely narrow view of who God is and what God can use.

To which I say, “Preach the gospel, and then if necessary, know when to shut up.”

5 Comments »

  1. Great responses to what seems super spiritual on the surface but super critical when examined.
    It frustrates me how quickly we (the church at large? People in general?) shut down our brains and lock in on whatever we choose to believe or understand. We can become so tenacious about things of consequence.

    Comment by sonworshiper — September 27, 2015 @ 5:43 pm

  2. Glad the graphic we posted elicited this thoughtful response.

    When Jesus bent down to wash the disciples feet, you notice he didn’t announce it? “Hey guys, check out what I’m doing for ya here.” He WAITED until someone (Peter) opposed the penultimate act of humility and servitude and only then provided apologia. That seems to be the order of Heaven: live by example, love by example and let the world ask why you’re not like them.

    Salt and light – used to demonstrate our insinuation into society via our faith and Christ-like love. Salt – not appealing to sound, but sensory. Light – not appealing to the ear, but again sensory. Reason (hearing and understanding) seems to follow on the heels of that which is sensory. They will know we are Christians by our love.

    ‘Tis the order of heaven.
    ~ F.R.

    Comment by flagrantregard — September 28, 2015 @ 7:10 pm

  3. I’ve encountered critics that did not dispute “preach” but rather the understanding of “Gospel.” Their reasoning was that you cannot live the gospel; their narrow definition of “the gospel” was a narrative about sin and how Jesus saves. Man is naturally sinful, Jesus died on the cross to save sinners; sharing or preaching the gospel meant telling that story, and doing so with words.

    Remember when the movie The End of the Spear came out? One of the criticisms I heard was that the story was great and the only shortcoming was that it “didn’t share the Gospel.” At first I wasn’t sure they saw the same movie. I now realize what they wanted was the ABC’s of becoming a Christian or a presentation of the Romans Road verses tacked onto the end of the film.

    Comment by Clark Bunch — October 5, 2015 @ 1:19 pm

    • “The Romans Road,” coming soon to a theater near you. Soundtrack available on Sparrow Records.

      (In my church, the Romans Road we were taught always ended with Revelation 3:20. Wasn’t pure Romans.)

      Matthew 5:16 (emphasis added) “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” The action is one of good works, but God is recognized as the source.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — October 5, 2015 @ 1:34 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Your Response (Value-Added Comments Only)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: