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The Christian Gospel is the most powerful “meme” ever crafted on this planet.
1/3 of the terrestrial population claims it plays a central role in personal life.
In its most reductionistic form, it takes on a phrase like “Jesus died for our sins.”
Of course, unpacking that phrase theologically could take a lifetime of work.
The problem is, it becomes a language game which can be accepted or rejected without any actual spiritual experience. Isn’t it possible that a person could say yes to it without any real “saving” happening at any meaningful level in his or her life?
Language games don’t need a real God any more than Monopoly boards need a real Atlantic City. They work because they keep their own rules.
This “disconnect” effect becomes even more pronounced with usage; even those who accept the Gospel can face serious diminishing personal returns and even boredom when a reductionistic form of the Gospel is repeated over and over for decades.
For this reason, I wrote the June 2011 Summerside Press novel The Blackberry Bush.
I wanted to explore biblically-responsible atonement models in a medium (fiction) that would allow great freedom of expression.
You see, getting saved or not had to be “real” and believable for Kati and Josh, the protagonists. Just having someone approach them on the beach (props to Mr. Luptak for the image) and presenting them with a reductionistic Gospel would not have been believable to the readers.
And I wanted their “salvation wrestling” to work for two kinds of people:
1) Those who don’t identify with the Christian salvation ‘meme.’
2) Those who have heard it for so long that it no longer really matters to them in real life.
How would you describe salvation without getting reductionistic?
What is salvation?
From what do we need saving?
Are those without self-consciousness of salvation any worse off for it?
Who isn’t saved? Who is?
Are redemption, salvation, and deliverance the same things?
In many languages, the terms overlap and get confusing. In German, “Heil” and “Erloesung” don’t occupy the same shapes and territories as the English words.
Is it just a word for obituaries, grave stones, and fables?
From what do we need saving, redeeming, and deliverance?
What is the receipt–how do we know we have it?
I have pretty big opinions about this, but would rather hear yours first…
Do all faith systems teach more or less the same thing about salvation, or not?
Do you have to believe that the world is evil and we are wretches for salvation to mean anything? Do some teachers overstate our depravity in order to create “salvation demand?”
If we are saved by grace, what is grace?
Can you have a faith system without teaching salvation in some form or another?
Does the “savior/redeemer” show up in pop culture because the church has forgotten how to talk about it? Think Keanu Reeves as Neo in the Matrix…
Have happiness, balance, appreciation, peace, effectiveness and other things replaced salvation as a human goal?
Do we need a Savior-Messiah if salvation is not a real and felt longing?
Sociologist Peter Gross from Switzerland suggests that Christianity could be stronger without stressing salvation. I disagree, but what do you think?
Is salvation, like “sin,” and “sacrifice,” a homeless word in our contemporary culture?
We had a house full of 18-25 year olds at our home last night. I am just trying to make sense of all this so that the Christian faith can actually have something to say to an entire generation that is taking a “pass” on church.
What are your thoughts?
They often bandy about the term “The Gospel” as if it were a fixed commodity on which we all agree.
So what is this “Gospel?”
Gospel means “Good News.” But what Good News are we talking about?
Jesus, in Mark 1:15, kicked off his ministry by suggesting that the gospel was the fact that the Kingdom of God was near.
Conservative Evangelicals seem to imply that the Gospel is the Good News that Jesus died for us. If we say yes to this, we go to heaven. If we don’t, then…well…
It seems, in the New Testament, that there is a Gospel which Jesus preached, and then there is a Gospel that was preached about Jesus. The two come together a bit in John 3:16, but we wouldn’t want to reduce all of the Bible to one verse.
If we don’t preach the Gospel simply enough, we get lost in vague piety and religiosity.
If we preach it too simply (without any nuance) then we collapse the entire Word of God into a simple transactional contract that does not do justice to the depth of our relationship with God.
And then there is the matter of fact that the four “bios” of Jesus are called “Gospels.”
What is, for you: this “Gospel?”
Not a rhetorical question. Please have at it.