Monday, September 26, 2005

More on Good News

continuing . . .

Given the fact that the first century was a target rich environment for anyone wanting to blast away at false religions, we should be amazed to realize that none of those gods and deities are named and criticized in the letters of the New Testament. Criticism of wrong belief and behavior and false religion was leveled at those within the Christian community rather than at those without. The consistent proclamation from John the Baptist, to Jesus, to the apostles was God's reign. That was the Good News. They didn't start with "Zeus is false."

Could it be that all human pursuits of the divine, however misguided and fundamentally flawed, are a pursuit of God? Could this be why Paul, in his pluralistic environment, criticized flawed ideas of God instead of disparaging anyone's pursuit of God no matter how incorrectly conceived, parsed, and executed. Surely there was graciousness and generosity involved in not taking easy shots at the piety of those who aren't following Jesus.

The other side to this discussion goes beyond the way the believers we read about in scripture didn't go around tearing down other religions and shows that what they did proclaim didn't require proving other religions wrong. When the Gospel is seen as a set of propositions to be accepted, of course there must be a competition with every other set of propositions. When Christianity is reduced from a way of life to a religion of beliefs, then it has to fight with other religious ideas.

However, when the Good News is that God is near, and that He reigns, the proclamation isn't about the clash of propositions. In fact, everything doesn't hinge on those - and the Gospel can be communicated through a cup of cold water. Of course, the story of how atonement was accomplished in Jesus is part of the nearness of God's reign, but not the only part. It is not even the first part for the person whose throat is parched.

4 comments:

Ken Haynes said...

Thanks for those last two posts..your comments on relational vs. propositional truth really helps me think through the wide bandwidth of "pursuits of the divine" or I guess I should say the one who pursues us.

Greg Newton said...
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Greg Newton said...

Well said - our pursuit of the divine is due to God's first pursuit of us. Could all religions be graciously viewed as responses to the Divine initiative? How would we change our language about those religious systems if that were our view?

Southlake Student Community said...

Greg, Ken, love the posts... thinking about your response to Ken and the idea of graciously approaching other faith systems made me think of a couple of reasons why that is so tough for us to do: 1) It would take a lot of time. Not only are probably very naturally impatient with most things, but we would have to truly shake off the evangelical "titanic/lifeboat" fever pitch of evangelization. 2) It would take the grace to be informed through that time consuming conversation and shared life. Of course we could accept no untruth in those conversations, but such a shared life would surely be a two-way street of growth and information. That is a bitter pill for the typical western Christian.

But, the whole thing has my vote! Let's just do it and see how God works! Peace, Todd