Monday, April 9, 2012

A Therapeutic Gospel-L. Mumme

    In the Rubik’s Cube presentation of the gospel, the pastor begins by addressing
the fall of man in Adam’s rebellion against God. Since the fall, man has been struggling
to find wholeness and completeness. The idea the pastor is trying to communicate is
that the result of human beings’ fallen nature is a deep emptiness. We are thrust into a
plight to fill that void and find meaning so that we can feel whole again. The only way
we will feel whole is through the work Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross. People go
to God because he is the only one who knows how to complete us and fill what is
lacking because he is our Creator. In the pastor’s own words, “all we have to do is quit
struggling on our own to do what we’ll never be able to do on our own.” We cannot find
order or meaning on our own, but with God “we can have peace and prosperity and
health and happiness and we can know what it’s like to be made right with God again
because of what Jesus did.”
    The main issue with this presentation is its neglect to tell the gospel Story:
creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. This presentation is similar to the therapeutic
gospel that Wax addresses. Though the pastor mentions the creation and rebellion of
Adam he never uses the word “sin.” There is no mention of man’s fallen nature being
evil and deserving punishment. So now all the listener can infer is that Adam rebelled
and now all of mankind is incomplete and in chaos. So the creation aspect is
referenced, but the fall is not clearly explained. Now we move to redemption. The main
thrust of this gospel presentation is that human beings cannot fix this situation, but God
can! God can put everything back together and create order out of the chaos. Since
the main result of the fall was human emptiness, the only solution needed is a good
filling. God is the one who can provide this filling according to this presentation. The
result of “trusting Jesus and the work that he did for us on the cross” is peace,
prosperity, health, and happiness.
Redemption is initiated by Christ but then we can except it simply by trusting in
Jesus and his work for us. There is a serious downplay of the concept and the reality of
sin, and as a result there is no mention of repentance. Instead of repenting “all we have
to do is quit struggling on our own.” This attitude is dangerous because a failure to deal
with the real problem, which is sin, results in an unsolved problem that is very serious.
The wrath of God still stands against sin and as it stands in Scripture “it is a fearful thing
to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
    In countering this counterfeit one first has to realize that there are some very
good aspects of this Rubiks Cube presentation of the gospel. There is a very real
sense of emptiness and futility within humanity. Generations come and go and there is
no cessation of the suffering and pain in this world. Christ even comforts “those who
hunger and thirst for righteousness” by assuring their coming filling and satisfaction
(Matthew 5:6). But the hunger of the human heart, while the gospel completely satisfies
it, is not the main end of the gospel message. This is because our desire to be filled is
not our main problem. God is holy and has opened his heart to mankind and humanity
has transgressed his laws and profaned his holy name. We have built up a unending
debt of sin. Christ is the perfect solution because on the Cross he paid our debt to the
full and satisfied God’s justice. He died but then God raised him from the grave,
showing that those who follow Christ in dying to sin will also be raised to new life with
him. God in his glory chose to extend forgiveness to us in this way and so we are the
benefactors of grace. Keeping God at the center of the gospel will help keep us from
viewing salvation as a sort of therapy for our present state.

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