The Blog of Gordon Pruitt the Pastor of St. Matthew's United Methodist Church in Richmond Virginia

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Will the real Gospel please stand up

David Fitch gives a summery of a recent Dallas Willard presentation on his blog. As some of you know Dallas Willard for good or bad has been one of the biggest influences on my life. This is the gist of one of his presentations, from David's blog.

"Dallas asserted that there are "3 Gospels Heard at the Present"

1.) YOUR SINS WILL BE FORGIVEN and you will be in heaven in the afterlife if you believed that Jesus suffered for your sins
2.) JESUS DIED TO LIBERATE THE OPPRESSED and you can stand with him in that battle.
3.) DO WHAT YOUR CHURCH SAYS and it will see to it you are received by God.

Dallas said compare these 3 gospels with the following:
4.) Put your confidence and trust in Jesus and live with him as his disciple now in the present Kingdom of God (Matt 6.33; Rom 8.1-14; Col 1.13; 3. 1-4; John 3.1-8).
Dallas said 'Salvation is participating now in the life which Jesus is now living on earth - Of course that involves forgiveness and heaven afterward and much more.'"

As usual, Dallas is so right. In the Virginia United Methodist Church, of which I am a part of this is how you could separate the pastors and the churches from each other. The conservatives are all about the first gospel, the liberals are all about the 2nd gospel but in my perhaps arrogant perspective there are not many churches that live out the 4th gospel Willard describes which i believe to be the correct gospel.
One of the many growing areas i have experienced in the last 10 years has been my view on the atonement and salvation. About the atonement i would have said the one and only meaning to the atonement was substitutionary, that Jesus death on the cross. That would have put me in the 1) gospel camp. Over the years as i have studied the Bible and read many books, including Willard I have came to the conclusion that there is more to the atonement than the forgiveness of sins. " With the forgiveness of sins you have to trust in something Jesus DID, not in JESUS. Please here this, I get on my knees every morning and thank God for the forgiveness of sins, believe me I need it, but Jesus came for more than to forgive our sins.

If you were to ask what the Methodist church is known for, what the strength of the church is, you would hear that we are good at liberating the oppressed and social action/social justice. It would be hard to find any other Christian organization in these areas than the Methodist church that does this better and we should be proud of that. This is where we thrive at that is awesome because God has called us to do so, but again there is more to the gospel. Here you have to trust something Jesus said, but not in Jesus himself.

The good news is with the help of the Holy Spirit as people begin to put their trust and confidence in Jesus and become his disciples, the forgiveness of sins and the liberating of the oppressed will naturally happen.


Chris said...

Gordo, you are a rockstar! I am totally tracking with you.

I also feel as though my understanding of the gospel is transitioning from the first type to something that hopefully resembles the fourth type.

That is why I like Wesley - it seemed like he promoted and taught a balance of social justice (social holiness) and trust IN Jesus (personal piety.)

Thanks for the great reflection!

Alison said...

YES!!! So many people consider themselves Christians because of what they believe and don't live in a way that Jesus would be happy about.