Getting the Gospel Right: Restoring Community

Scot McKnight confronts our gospel of individuality and the problems that derive from it over at Out of Ur. He asks:

What then is Christian spirituality? It is the person who is restored to God, to self, to others and the world – all four directions for all time – by a gospel that emerges from a “communal God” (the Trinity) to create a community that reflects who God is. Do we preach a gospel that gives rise to holistic restoration and that can create a fully biblical spirituality?

The individuality-gospel that is found in many churches (maybe mine, maybe yours) not only has a damaging effect on our spiritual transformation, it is an incomplete representation of the God we serve. We lose the restored community facet of the good news when our gospel is personal alone. McKnight calls this gospel a parody – it’s painful to think of the label that applies to the poor pastor who presents this kind of message.

What I found intriguing in the light of some discussions I have been involved in this week is this:

Let us not suppose that any of these examples has simplistic explanations, but let us think a little more systemically: if we preach a gospel that is entirely focused on “getting right with God” but which does not include in that presentation that God’s intent is to form a community (the Church) in which restored persons live out this Christ-shaped and Spirit-directed spirituality, then we can expect to hear lots of pulpit rhetoric exhorting us that the Church matters. And, if we discover on Sunday morning that everyone in our church is the same ethnically and economically, we can be sure that we are preaching something that is attracting only those kinds of people. And if we are hesitant to admit the implication of this ethnic, economic reality, then we need to be more honest with ourselves. We get what we preach. And we perform what we preach. How we live reveals the gospel we responded to and the gospel we believe.

Read the whole post and chew on it a bit before responding. Better yet, let the Spirit guide your reading and see what comes of it.


2 thoughts on “Getting the Gospel Right: Restoring Community

  1. i think scott and the whole emerging movement has a lot of good pts. there is no question, Christ didnt mean for his Bride to be His brides. we are supposed to be one, as “my heavenly Father is one”.

    with that said, i think in order for us to be one, that means we have to be willing to open our arms (in both directions) to those whose doctrine we dont entirely agree with.

    for instance, i disagree that the Pope is the head of the church. i also disagree with placing myself under his authority. however, i agree entirely with communing with local Roman Catholic churches. we need to find unity with all fellow believers. unfortunately, we allow the divisions among our leadership to deter us from communing with one another. let us reach out to others in the Body.

    may we find joy in unity under one head, even Christ Jesus

  2. I personaly am glad for the correction away from American individualism in the church. There is no question that the view of God the Therapist stems from this.

    However, I would also be concerned about over correction into an Auburn Avenue style yer-in-the- covenant idea which comes close at times to peripheralizing the necessity of the repentance of the individual and the responsiveness of the individual to the Spirit and the word. It certainly would not be helpful to overcorrect. But I think that much of the movement is headed that way even though the post you gave does not reflect that. Oh well, it wouldn’t be the first time.

    Probably no secret to you Pastor but look at the use of 2nd person singular personal pronouns when Christ is addressing the churches in Revelation 2-3. Such a wonderful statement of the unity of the body even when we can’t see it.

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