Thursday, April 5, 2012

A (Somewhat) Therapeutic Gospel-K. DiGiacomo

            This video presents the Gospel using dialogue and a series of hand-drawn diagrams illustrating the relationships between God, Christ, individuals, and the world at large. First, the video addresses the “problem” with the world in its current state, as the narrator explains that individuals lack feelings of satisfaction, fulfillment, and meaning, and that this emptiness leads to personal failures, broken relationships, and a damaged world at large. Next, the narrator illustrates that God originally created the world to be perfect, citing Psalm 16:11 and describing the complete joy Adam and Eve found in loving, trusting, and worshiping God. The narrator then defines sin as “rebellion against God,” explaining humanity’s sin nature with Romans 3:23. Christ is introduced as restoring the world to its intended state by accepting the burden and punishment of every person’s sin, as supported by 1 Peter 3:18. The narrator shows that God calls those whom He has saved through Christ to mission, as they join together in church communities and reach out to others in obedience to John 20:21. Lastly, the narrator appeals to the viewer to recognize feelings of emptiness and futility in his or her own heart and to respond with repentance, so that he or she may access individual fullness and healthy relationships with others.
            “The Gospel in 7 Minutes” displays characteristics of Wax’s therapeutic gospel. According to this counterfeit gospel, sin exists primarily as an impediment to the fulfillment of the positive goals and experiences God has in store for humanity, and Christ’s sacrifice and the church community serve to bring individuals the emotional, material, and spiritual blessings they deserve when they enter into a relationship with Jesus. Although this video does not exhibit all the failings of the therapeutic gospel, the influences of this particular counterfeit are visible. Most noticeable is the manner in which the narrator’s presentation dwells upon personal feelings of dissatisfaction and unhappiness as evidence for the existence of sin – and, conversely, how he uses the scriptural promise of joy and fulfillment (in accordance with Psalm 16:11) to encourage individuals to choose to repent of their sin and turn to Jesus. It is certainly true that living a sinful life brings about negative consequences in this lifetime which even a fallen human being can perceive, and it is equally valid that true joy and satisfaction are found only through drawing near to God. However, the negative effects of sin that we may feel are not the same thing as the sins themselves, and if we seek relationship with God merely to replace our negative feelings with positive ones, then our motivations are severely flawed. As Wax writes, “Jesus is not merely a means to an end… Jesus is the end” (p. 215). By encouraging the unsaved to respond to God out of ultimately selfish motives rather than true brokenness, gratitude, and submission, this video does not adequately articulate the believer’s need to give glory to God instead of demanding blessings from Him.
            “The Gospel in 7 Minutes” likewise reflects the failure of the therapeutic gospel to acknowledge the role of the Christian community in glorifying God above all else. This video does clearly articulate the extreme importance of belonging to a local body of believers, an essential element of practical faith which the video discussed in the previous section neglected to address. “The Gospel in 7 Minutes” makes it very clear that new believers are empowered and expected to form relationships with other believers which strengthen the church body and prepare the way for evangelism. The narrator cites the scriptural concept that believers are to love one other and model healthy relationships. However, in “The Gospel in 7 Minutes,” this idea becomes a goal in itself, rather than a means to the greater end of advancing God’s kingdom for His glory; individuals are encouraged to convert with the incentive of replacing their currently broken relationships with new, healthy, fulfilling bonds within the body of Christ. Again, secondary blessings – emotional healing and interpersonal success – become primary objectives, impeding the believer’s proper attitude of humility, thankfulness, and service.

No comments:

Post a Comment