For the past two weeks I’ve been pondering what to say in response to Shane Claiborne’s essay in Esquire magazine, “What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff?” I met Shane a few months ago and was very impressed by him, so I was excited then to see that Esquire chose him as the “Radical Christian” for their 2009 list of the “Best and Brightest.”
I don’t always agree with Shane’s solutions, but I do share his passion for social issues. We also agree—I think completely—on the need to share the good news of Christ with a lost world. When I read his essay, though, I was disappointed. There was no requirement for him to use the essay to share the gospel, but he did—and I think he flubbed it.
The realization that I likely would not have done any better, though, made me hesitant to say anything about it. Fortunately, blogging is one of the few areas in life where procrastination can be beneficial. Usually if I put off writing something long enough, someone else will come along and say it better than I ever could have. Such is the case with Kevin DeYoung’s latest post. Although he doesn’t mention Shane by name (I don’t even know if Kevin read his article) he addresses all of the concerns I had with this type of gospel presentation.
Have you heard the New Gospel? It’s not been codified. It’s not owned by any one person or movement. But it is increasingly common.
The New Gospel generally has four parts to it.
It usually starts with an apology: “I’m sorry for my fellow Christians. I understand why you hate Christianity. It’s like that thing Ghandi said, ‘why can’t the Christians be more like their Christ?’ Christians are hypocritical, judgmental, and self-righteous. I know we screwed up with the Crusades, slavery, and the Witch Trials. All I can say is: I apologize. We’ve not give you a reason to believe.”
I’ll likely have more to say on this later but for now I’d encourage to read the rest of Kevin’s excellent post.