Table Mission 2
Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                       February 25, 2008
In This Issue
What is the Gospel?
My Reflections
Quick Links

Many don't read the late John Howard Yoder (Notre Dame) because he's difficult to read. Gratefully, one of his students, Lee Camp (Lipscomb), has picked up the Yoder torch so-to-speak, re-articulating much of what Yoder had to say. This, of course, takes nothing away from Camp's own insights, a theologian in his own right.
One of the issues cropping up in the Western church today is the nature of the Gospel. Many commentators, including myself, contend we've been "preaching" a half truth. The excerpt below will key you in on the dichotomy. Not only did Jesus give his life as a ransom for many, he initiated a kingdom, of which, he is King!
The implications should be life-changing - literally.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION/TOPIC: Are we promoting a half Gospel?
What is the Gospel? 
Excerpted from Mere Discipleship by Lee Camp
Mere Discipleship
Regarding the Good News, Camp asserts, "What is this new thing that is supposedly so good?"
"Gospel preaching" sometimes goes this way: the holy Creator God set forth a holy law, which that God demands we keep. In rebellion, we transgressed God's law, and now deserve death. In his mercy, though, God gave his own Son in our place, so we don't have to die. If we believe in this Good News we can be saved from hell and go to heaven. Thus you must decide: what will your fate be when you die?

While such preaching might capture some biblical trajectories, truer to the biblical portrait of Good News is this synopsis: God created a good creation in order to be in relationship. In rebellion, we rejected the offer of relationship, made a hell of God's good creation, and find ourselves enslaved to those things created for our good. In God's mercy, God consistently pursued covenant relationship and sought to redeem the rebellious creation. God offered in Jesus a new beginning, the kingdom of God, the new creation. We rejected him again and killed the Son. Yet our rebellion did not have the last word, for Jesus' obedience even unto death unmasked the rebellious powers of this world for what they are - weak, paltry, concerned only with their own pitiful self-existence. Thus the Father raised him from the grave - and offers that same power of renewal to be at work in his covenant people, embodying the new creation. We may receive the Good News (which comes with the same suffering experienced by Jesus, for the world lives yet in rebellion) and trust that we shall be vindicated and blessed beyond measure by fellowship with God. Or we may continue in our rebellion, left to our own peril, self-centeredness, loneliness, and hell (2003:59).

My Reflections

Although I'm not with Doug Pagitt on a fair amount of things, I am with him on this: too often evangelicals look for application instead of implication. Truly, if I agree with Camp's understanding of the Gospel above, I shouldn't be only nodding in agreement (the national pastime for evangelicals), I should be asking the question: What are the implications of this Gospel? How do I center my life on this Gospel?
The more I read the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7), the more I think Jesus wasn't joking. Not only did Christ die for our sins, he gave us a way to live, a way to "embody the new creation" (what Yoder refers to as the politics of Jesus).*
As a starting point, the implication for the organic life is a life centered on Christ's Sermon on the Mount. Toward this end, Jesus commands us, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48).
*In the classical sense, politics means how a community arranges its affairs.
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table