April 29, 2008

The Era of Works: the Secular Gospel

"Share the gospel, use words if necessary" are the famous words attribed to the historic figure, St Francis of Assisi. Whether or not this is an accurate representation of Assisi's entire framework of the gospel, it does represent a new wave of religion that lacks all content. A gospel with out words is merely random acts of kindness. Agreeably, however, the gospel without acts of kindness lacks love.

The Christian church today is embracing the idea that since younger people aren't interested in the content of faith, but moreso in being benevolent servants in our world, that we, the church, should focus on things other than doctrine. I don't think this is necessarily true of young people, but perhaps it is to some extent.

This week we heard that the black church is different, not deficient. I agree that the superficial things that make us different do not equate to deficiency. But if the gospel message is compromised and is viewed as merely as a matter of correcting social ills, then the gospel is lost in the mire of works.

The gospel is divisive. Teaching that through Jesus alone can one be saved is divisive and judgemental, but it is what it is. That does not mean we don't have an interest in helping the widows and the poor from every faith tradition. But we don't equate the gospel to those helps, though some place within such ministries there is a place for that eternal truth to be communicated.

The postmodern church and secular "religion" have a great deal in common as they elevate works of compassion over the message of the gospel, without which there is little purpose or meaning in benevolence.
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