Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Consequences of Unbalance: Rethinking the Relationship of the Gospel, Church, and the Culture.

by JM

In his new book, Radical Reformission, Mark Driscoll provides a helpful way of identifying the specific ways that the church has failed to balance the gospel, church, and the culture (or God, brother, and neighbor) Here’s the summary.

1. The Gospel + The Culture – The Church = Parachurch Organizations

There are some who are rightly frustrated with the church’s insularity and have ventured into enterprises that are disjointed from the local church. These organizations do much by way of conversions, but the weakness is that these same organizations fail to assimilate these converts into the discipleship making structures of the local church. Consequently, we have the preservation of immature believers. Furthermore, these organizations reinforce the unbiblical conception held by church and within parachurch organizations that there are people who are called to do and be what local churches and church members aren’t. So, Campus Crusade for Christ is called to do the evangelism that the 20 local churches surrounding University X aren’t called to. The mentality is, “Why be on mission when we have missionaries? – The professionals who assuage my conscience for not being a missionary to my neighbor. There’s the weakness of Loving God and our neighbor, but not our brother.

2. The Church + The Culture – The Gospel = Liberalism

Of course, mainline denominations embody this heroic but spiritually impotent endeavor to mobilize the church to address and aid her needy culture. However, they do so without the gospel. They’ve abandoned the notion of soul-damning sin, and consequently they’ve abandoned the notion of a soul-saving Jesus. This theological liberalism relegates them to address humanitarian needs with little thought of heaven or hell; they are treating skin abrasions when the artery has been severed. They’ve attempted to save the culture with the church without the gospel; as foolish as a physician attempting to save his patient with a syringe that contains no substance. They’ve loved their neighbor and brother, but not in the way commissioned by God.

3. The Church + The Gospel – The Culture = Fundamentalism

Then we have a swath of evangelical churches who believe that in order to preserve the stability of the church and the purity of the gospel, the church must maintain a sub-culture that is far removed from the culture. Culture is viewed as enemy. Every production and person within is viewed as pernicious threats to her members and doctrine. Whenever a church ventures out of her sub-culture in attempts to woo the lost, they are looked upon by fundamentalist as compromising fundamentals. If the world would be saved, she must convert to the churches sub-culture. This includes dress, talk, rules, music, entertainment, etc…. And when they make a convert, they make them twice the legalist and twice as ineffective as they are. The love God and their brother, but ignore their neighbor.