Earlier on this blog, I asked, “Is DA Carson right about the ‘Heart of the Gospel?’”
For Carson, the “Heart of the Gospel” is the penal substitution theory of the Atonement. My case is that this is not the “heart,” but rather an “aspect” of the gospel.
Dallas Willard writes,
“If you ask anyone from that 74 percent of Americans who say they have made a commitment to Jesus Christ what the Christian gospel is, you will probably be told that Jesus died to pay for our sins, and that if we will only believe he did this, we will go to heaven when we die. In this way what is only one theory of the ‘atonement’ is made out to be the whole of the essential message of Jesus. To continue with theological language for the moment, justification has taken the place of regeneration, or new life. Being let off the divine hook replaces possession of a divine life ‘from above.’” (The Divine Conspiracy, p. 42)
Leonard Sweet writes,
“Over a two-thousand year period, but especially in the last two hundred years, we have jerked and tugged the Christian faith out of its original soil, its life-giving source, which is an honest relationship with God through Jesus the Christ. After uprooting the faith, we have entombed it in a declaration of adherence to a set of beliefs. The shift has left us with casual doctrinal assent that exists independent of a changed life. We have made the Cross into a crossword puzzle, spending our time diagramming byzantine theories of atonement. How did the beauty of Jesus’ atoning work get isolated from the wonder of restoring an authentic relationship between God and humanity?” (Out of the Question…Into the Mystery, p. 5)
What do you think? Do you think that it’s possible that we’ve been teaching and preaching an anemic gospel? And what is the overall effect (or lack of effect) of such a gospel?
technorati: atonement, theology, emerging church