When the “Good News” Becomes “Good” Again!

Paper Fortune Teller

Two years ago I had a paradigm shift in my faith when I read Brian Zahnd’s Beauty Will Save The World.  As I wrote then “I suddenly had my ‘spiritual mojo’ back!”  In hindsight now I realize that for years my theology was often times at odds with my faith.  It created a dissonance in my Christian walk which made me quite happy to remain sitting quiet in the back of a church service as opposed to up front teaching.

But Zahnd’s book was quickly followed by as slew of  other like minded writers; N.T Wright, Greg Boyd, Rob Bell, Peter Rollins, Paul Ellis, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Jay Bakker, Mike Lloyd.  These teachers, and a handful of others, helped me to see God’s plan for his sons, daughters, and this world were far bigger and better than my previous theology had perceived.

Suddenly “Mediocre News” became “Good News” again!

 

The Political Church

I realized much of the American Christian model, when everything is stripped away, is sharing pretty mediocre news with people… and, understandably, getting pretty mediocre results.  In America, by and large, the church sacrificed its prophetic voice years ago for political influence and in the process  successfully alienated a generation of young people on the horizon.

faith

We bemoaned the secularization of society blaming the atheists, humanists, and gays for it when in fact, the greatest catalyst for America’s turn from Christianity has been the behavior of it’s church.

* The church saw Jesus as a culture to be defended rather than a love to be shared

* The church chose a political team to support rather than supporting the duly elected

* The church became the behavior referees better known for calling a “foul” than announcing “Good News”

And as the church increasingly becomes more irrelevant and ignored by the average American, we are now becoming experts in claiming “persecution” and “victim” status.  Our “rights” are suddenly being violated.

Think for a moment where we would be if Jesus had started claiming his rights were being violated?  Hard to even imagine…

Instead when Christ was offered political power by the devil (in the wilderness) or by the people (to make him King) he rejected it both times.

Sadly the church has not!

 

Theology, Faith…and Hell

Then there is hell.  There is a funny meme going around Facebook showing Jesus at the door knocking.  It says:

Knock Knock…Jesus5

Who’s there?

It’s Jesus, let me in!

Why?

I have to save you…

From what?

From what I’m going to do to you if you don’t let me in.

—————————————————————–

Now, that is a little cheeky but it highlights the underpinning of mainstream evangelical Christianity;  the threat of eternal damnation.  What better sales motivation is there than “If you don’t buy our product…you’ll burn in hell!”

How many people have “received” Jesus with a metaphorical shotgun to their head?  How can we share an unconditional love that is rooted in fear?

I can’t!

Because then it isn’t love…

Conclusion

So you can see my dilemma.  My mouth couldn’t speak anymore. I suspected my “good news” wasn’t all together that good.  When I got asked to speak somewhere I made a polite excuse why I was unavailable.  I preferred instead to hang out in the back row of Sunday service remaining incognito.

Now…you can’t shut me up.  I have GOOD NEWS to share again.

God loves you…you are his child, and you don’t have to be afraid!

I speak anywhere…anytime.  If I’m on vacation and get asked to speak…I speak.  Just this week I got asked to share at a young adults event.  I don’t know anything about it but I just said, “Yes!”  What I do know is there will be people there that need to know how much God loves them.

Funny how I changed when the “Good News” became “Good” again!

 

 

 

 

 

9 comments

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  • Yes it really is GOOD news, isn’t it? God obviously used a seemingly “dry” period to show you that and the result is, as you say, you can no longer be silent. Well done! BTW, gave you a modest shout-out in my most recent blog post.

  • Steve, thank you for your story. Might I ask, what is the bad news? Or, is there any bad news? In fact, what do you do with the fact that Jesus spoke more of hell than he did heaven? I’m not championing the ole fundie, pulpit-pounding nonsense; I’m just asking for an honest appraisal of the truth.

    Thanks,
    Kevin

    • Steve

      Reply

      Hi Kevin, thanks for the comment. To answer you question, I don’t think Jesus talked about heaven or hell much at all at least in the traditional evangelical afterlife sense. He talked A LOT about what the Kingdom of Heaven was LIKE and how that style of living needed to be brought to Earth by his followers. So I think the bad news is already that things are not what they are supposed to be. We have children who are being emotionally and sexually abused, women who are forced into prostitution, and men who are sold into slave like conditions. There is a lot of bad news (war, murder, greed, hate, betrayal etc) but the God we serve has empowered us to work against these ways by providing a Way which leads to life.

      Now I believe Jesus also talks about a day when he says “Enough!” (1 Cor 3) And makes everything new. There will be “loss” as everything in us that does not conform to a new “heaven & Earth) is stripped away and thrown into the proverbial fire. As the scripture indicates in 1 Cor that will be different degrees for different people based on “how they built” in this life. For some that chose not to conform to “good news” there will be some loss “bad news”

      • Thanks, Steve.

        Do you believe that in 1 Cor. 3 St. Paul is speaking of universal judgment or only that within the church? Also, what do you think God will do on that “Enough!” day with man-stealers, those who use small children to gratify their sexual perversions; what will God do with Hitlers, liars and thieves, who refuse to obey or “conform” to the good news?

        Cheers.
        Kevin

        • Steve

          Reply

          Hi Kevin, I think 1 Cor speaks to all creation (in my opinion). In regards to those classes you mentioned, there will be a great loss on that day. I do know that there will be people still receiving healing in the new creation (Rev 22:2). To what degree, and what is left when what is able to move on to the “age to come” only God truly knows.

          • Hey, again, Steve.

            Have you found any reputable scholar that shares your opinion that 1 Cor. 3 is referring to all of creation rather than the church? If we simply take St. Paul at his word, It seems the only builders mentioned in the context are immediately apostles, who are building the church, and by extension others in ecclesial authority. That this passage is speaking to the universal judgment of all humanity is well beyond the pale of the text’s plain meaning.

            Regarding Revelation’s reference, I find it odd that you want to take the second death as “proverbial,” by which I assume you mean figuratively, whilst you seem to take a rather literal understanding of the healing leaves of Rev. 22:3. This is ironically similar to a dispensationalist fundamentalist approach to the Apocalypse.

            Granting that, “there shall be no more curse,” I would question that the healing of the nations is referring to a yet future and much more progressing sense (22:3). After all, there won’t be any more suffering, pain, or death (21:4).

            There are several others that won’t simply suffer loss in the new creation, but will just not be there. They are “the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars”; “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie” (21:8, 27a). In sum, all the “former things are passed away” (21:4). These are contrasted with those that overcome, enjoying sonship, and are written in the Lamb’s book of life (21:7, 27b).

            Despite how many young hipster preachers, wearing thin square fashion glasses and skinny jeans, may be promoting this refried theological liberalism, I just can bring myself to throw out half of scripture, the correct reading of the other half, and all of our 2000 years of historical heritage.

            Thanks for the conversation.

            Kevin

          • Steve

            Kevin,

            You’ll have to forgive me. I’m afraid I can’t speak to the theological liberalism of “many young hipster preachers, wearing thin square fashion glasses and skinny jeans”. I’m afraid I’m just a middle aged, somewhat overweight guy who lives in Hong Kong and unfortunately haven’t had the privilege of moving in those cool circles.

            Best…Steve

  • Oh, Steve, from Boyd’s anti-trinitarianism to Bell’s universalism to Rollins’ “Atheism for Lent” (!!) to Nadia’s ink and potty mouth, I think you’re moving in the cool circles, despite being in Hong Kong. Heavier guys were skinny jeans, too.

    • Steve

      Reply

      Kevin, I’m afraid to say you think to highly of me. Sadly, none of those esteemed figures you mention would even know my name. But you forgot to note N.T. Wright, unless by omission you mean to suggest he wouldn’t look cool in skinny jeans?? 😉

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