Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Quietist Gospel-K. DiGiacomo

            “Bad News/Good News” is an approximately five-minute-long video focused on teaching Christians how to present the Gospel simply, using four main points and four Bible verses. The first two of these points, which the video terms “bad news,” address the existence and consequences of humanity’s sin nature; Romans 3:23 is used to explain that all people are sinners, and Romans 6:23 to show that sin leads to death. Then, turning to the “good news,” the video proclaims that “Christ died for you,” supporting this point with Romans 5:8. Because of this, the presentation continues, citing Ephesians 2:8-9, individuals are called to place their faith in Him as the only means of salvation. The video concludes with the “sinner’s prayer,” calling the participant to trust Jesus and to give thanks for forgiveness and everlasting life.
            “Bad News/Good News” exhibits characteristics of the “quietist” counterfeit gospel as defined by Wax. The quietist gospel places disproportionate weight on introspection and individual spiritual experiences, and, eventually, results in the gathering of self-focused believers into an insular and spiritually deadened community which focuses on an abstract, eventual future in Heaven rather than acting to serve God’s present kingdom on Earth. “Bad News/Good News” demonstrates some of these flaws by overemphasizing the personal nature of the salvation experience to the total exclusion of Christian community and fellowship. Although all humanity is included beneath the indictment of sinfulness in the first part of the video, the second half exclusively addresses Christ’s role as a personal Savior and the need for an independent personal response to Him. Believers are never urged to seek out an active local church. Most notably, the video supports its third point, “Christ died for you,” with Romans 5:6, which states that “Christ died for us” (emphasis added). Although it is by no means incorrect to declare that Christ’s sacrifice made atonement for individuals, it is also essential to remember that the crucifixion made a new temple and a new Israel out of innumerable self-centered sinners – unity with other believers is inherent in the new identity Christ creates for each of us, a fact which this video does not bring up at all. In seeking to elicit an individual response, “Bad News/Good News” does not fully describe the global magnitude of salvation.
“Bad News/Good News” also dwells on the future promise of eternal life without calling the new believer to any action for the kingdom in this lifetime. Having “trust[ed] Jesus Christ alone” and “thank[ed Him] for forgiveness and everlasting life,” the new Christian’s work appears complete, according to the video. To be fair, “Bad News/Good News” does make it very clear that individuals can take no action to bring themselves to God or to earn their own salvation, a vital point entirely in accordance with Scripture. However, the video carries this idea somewhat too far, leaving the viewer with the impression that because of humanity’s helplessness against sin without Christ, after a salvation experience there remains nothing to do but wait passively for eternity to arrive. This differs drastically from the Scriptures’ portrayal of Christian life! Nowhere does “Bad News/Good News” address God’s calling of his people, both individually and corporately, to love others, serve the cause of justice, and communicate His truth. This characterization of new life in Christ as retiring and inactive typifies the counterfeit quietist gospel.

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