Thursday, September 25, 2008

Marketing strategy that is faithful to Scripture

Probably. But this is an interesting marketing strategy that can be used to get the malnourished sheep to come over to be fed in Bible teaching churches.


[HT: Christian Research Net]

15 comments:

vincit omnia veritas said...

People are easily offended these days.

That is why in most reformed churches, every sermon is an exhortation, and focused upon the Gospel and Christ.

That's good.

But what about the whole counsel of God?

I feel I'm being fed milk, not meat. Week after week, I'm taught over and over again the Gospel. And they say the "Gospel is enough." (Heb 5:11-14? The other way around.)

Sigh ...

PuritanReformed said...

Vincent:

well, the Gospel IS enough. But what is the Gospel? Is it just limited to the 4 spiritual laws? Or does proclaiming the Gospel includes having to build people up in the faith which gives the Gospel a foundation to thrive in our lives?

vincit omnia veritas said...

If the Gospel IS enough for congregants day in and day out, pray tell, what IS the Gospel?

And enough for what?

Is the Gospel the whole counsel of God?

PuritanReformed said...

Vincent:

IMO, the Gospel in the narrow sense is about how to get saved. The Gospel in the broad sense encompasses the doctrines of soteriology, of Christology, and of Theology proper, with the focus being on the Cross; of Christ being for us and with us. In an even broader sense, it encompasses the entire counsel of God which is neccessary for us to grow in our relationship with God.

The problem as I see it is that people are treating the Gospel as mere hell insurance policy, without wanting to know more about the God who love them and how they are saved, not to mention any regard for the implications of salvation over every aspect of their lives. Instead of knowledge, they embrace mysticism in sanctification, and then they wonder why they struggle to live a victorious Christian life...

vincit omnia veritas said...

Dear Daniel (pse refer to my first comment)

Although this is not my problem/issue, I don’t use the “Gospel” to mean the “broad” and “broader” sense. In fact, it makes little sense to use the same word for different things; it falls for the unnecessary error of equivocation/ambiguity. A good theologian is able to make fine distinctions between very similar concepts, and using the word “Gospel” to mean “Good News,” the 66 books of the Bible, or even the specificities of soteriology/harmartiology/anthropology/christology/theology is to confound issues that are already complicated.

I once heard a pastor defined the “Gospel” as the entire Bible, which really puzzles folks, especially when we teach others that “we need to believe the “Gospel” to be saved.” Do we really need to know what Solomon wrote in Song of Songs to get saved e.g. Song 4:5 “Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that graze among the lilies?” Or better, do we really need to know the five points of Calvinism specifically to be truly saved (controversial, isn’t it?)?

I believe we only need the Gospel (and the internal call of the Spirit) to be saved.

IMHO, preaching the Gospel is not enough for the sanctification of the elect. The whole counsel of God is the entire Bible – now THAT is enough and necessary.

My problem with some preachers is that they have no courage to preach anything to rebuke/reprove the congregation. Preaching the Gospel (the narrow definition) day in and day out to a congregation of saved-folks for the next tens years is irresponsibility at best.

PS: I think Sproul defined “Gospel” quite well here:

http://www.ligonier.org/welcome_whatisthegospel.php

“[The Gospel] is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith – and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him – and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.”

That is why I feel like I’m being fed like an infant (Heb 5:11-14).

PuritanReformed said...

Vincent:

I use the various senses just to state that I do not think that semantically pitting the Gospel vs the whole counsel of God is a good idea; even if that was not your intended meaning, it should not be written such. The whole counsel of God IS intricately linked to the Gospel since it is the foundation for the Gospel, and the Gospel is the center of all our doctrines. All of the whole counsel of God should serve to make us understand more about and worship God who is the center of the Gospel.

Of course I do agree that we generally shouldn't use the term "Gospel" to refer to the whole counsel of God, but I used that in this case so as to emphasize the continuity and centrality of the Gospel to the whole of God's Word.

>Preaching the Gospel (the narrow definition) day in and day out to a congregation of saved-folks for the next tens years is irresponsibility at best.

Amen. Yet I wouldn't call such sermons "preaching the Gospel over and over again", but rather the basics of the Gospel.

P.S.: Do you check your email? I think they are a few emails I've sent you that are awaiting a reply...

vincit omnia veritas said...

Dear Daniel,

D: I use the various senses just to state that I do not think that semantically pitting the Gospel vs the whole counsel of God is a good idea; even if that was not your intended meaning, it should not be written such.

>I don’t see how using the word “Gospel” to mean what it means in the Bible (as defined by Sproul above) would be seen as “semantically pitting the Gospel vs the whole counsel of God.” Would using the word “soteriology” to mean soteriology be likewise seen as “semantically pitting “soteriology” vs the whole counsel of God?” Of course not. Words/nouns are meant to describe certain concepts/entities/persons/time/place etc. An easy resolution is to do a lexical study of the word “Gospel” as used in the Bible. You will see what I mean.

http://www.searchgodsword.org/lex/grk/view.cgi?number=2098

D: The whole counsel of God IS intricately linked to the Gospel since it is the foundation for the Gospel, and the Gospel is the center of all our doctrines.

>Amen. As Martin Luther once said, “We teach nothing save Christ crucified. But Christ crucified brings all these doctrines with Him …” (The Bondage of the Will, pp. 107-8).

D: All of the whole counsel of God should serve to make us understand more about and worship God who is the center of the Gospel.

>Yes, “the whole counsel of God” or special revelation is centred/focused upon Christ, but the content of His “counsel” is not limited to Christ. It should point us to Christ though. But this is a far cry from saying that one would only preach the Gospel day-in and day-out and nothing else.

D: Of course I do agree that we generally shouldn't use the term "Gospel" to refer to the whole counsel of God, but I used that in this case so as to emphasize the continuity and centrality of the Gospel to the whole of God's Word.

>I am not disputing your usage of this word per se. As I have reiterated, I am stating the case that certain ministers tell us that they would only preach the Gospel (using the broad sense of the word), while in reality they only preach the Gospel (the narrow sense of the word).

As they claim, isn’t it true that Paul declared, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor 2:2). But isn’t this Paul the same Paul who said, “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” (Acts 20:17-31).

So, did Paul warn the Ephesian elders for three years concerning grievous wolves using the Good News of Christ crucified and nothing else? I think not. But do take note that Paul didn’t say that, “I determined not to preach any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

D: Amen. Yet I wouldn't call such sermons "preaching the Gospel over and over again", but rather the basics of the Gospel.

>I call it the same way as what Paul(? Or Apollos?) calls it – “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3And this will we do, if God permit.” (Heb 6:1-3).

Sincerely yours,
Vincent

PuritanReformed said...

Vincent:

>I don’t see how using the word “Gospel” to mean what it means in the Bible (as defined by Sproul above) would be seen as “semantically pitting the Gospel vs the whole counsel of God.”

I mean as in how you use the word "Gospel" in the context of your first comment.

>But this is a far cry from saying that one would only preach the Gospel day-in and day-out and nothing else

Referring to the narrow sense, I agree.

>I am not disputing your usage of this word per se. As I have reiterated, I am stating the case that certain ministers tell us that they would only preach the Gospel (using the broad sense of the word), while in reality they only preach the Gospel (the narrow sense of the word).

Agreed.

>So, did Paul warn the Ephesian elders for three years concerning grievous wolves using the Good News of Christ crucified and nothing else?

On a strict technical understanding of the phrase "the Good News of Christ crucified and nothing else" as isolated from the context in 1 Cor. 2, the answer is no. But if it meant the phrase "the Good News of Christ crucified and nothing else" as understood in all its fullness in its original context, then yes.

>I call it the same way as what Paul(? Or Apollos?) calls it – “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3And this will we do, if God permit.” (Heb 6:1-3).

In the ESV, the words used are "elementary doctrine", and I think the phrase is appropriate.

vincit omnia veritas said...

Hi Daniel,

"On a strict technical understanding of the phrase "the Good News of Christ crucified and nothing else" as isolated from the context in 1 Cor. 2, the answer is no. But if it meant the phrase "the Good News of Christ crucified and nothing else" as understood in all its fullness in its original context, then yes."

Apparently, the strict technical sense of "Gospel" - as I have said - is found in any good lexical study of the word "Gospel."

The TDNT is a good start. I found these online resources:

http://www.searchgodsword.org/lex/grk/view.cgi?number=2098

http://www.studylight.org/lex/grk/view.cgi?number=2097

Ocurrences:

http://strongsnumbers.com/greek/2098.htm

And see:

http://www.antioch.com.sg/cgi-bin/bible/vines/get_defn.pl?num=1226#A1

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

"Gospel (Noun and Verb: to preach) [Noun]

Euangelion originally denoted a reward for good tidings; later, the idea of reward dropped, and the word stood for "the good news" itself. The Eng. word "gospel," i.e. "good message," is the equivalent of euangelion (Eng., "evangel"). In the NT it denotes the "good tidings" of the Kingdom of God and of salvation through Christ, to be received by faith, on the basis of His expiatory death, His burial, resurrection, and ascension, e.g., Acts_15:7; Acts_20:24; 1_Pet_4:17. Apart from those references and those in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and Rev_14:6, the noun is confined to Paul's Epistles. The Apostle uses it of two associated yet distinct things,

(a) of the basic facts of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, e.g., 1_Cor_15:1-3;

(b) of the interpretation of these facts, e.g., Rom_2:16; Gal_1:7,11; Gal_2:2;

in A1(a) the "Gospel" is viewed historically, in A1(b) doctrinally, with reference to the interpretation of the facts, as is sometimes indicated by the context.

The following phrases describe the subjects or nature or purport of the message; it is the "gospel" of God, Mark_1:14; Rom_1:1; Rom_15:16; 2_Cor_11:7; 1_Thess_2:2,9; 1_Pet_4:17; God, concerning His Son, Rom_1:1-3; His Son, Rom_1:9; Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Mark_1:1; our Lord Jesus, 2_Thess_1:8; Christ, Rom_15:19, etc.; the glory of Christ, 2_Cor_4:4; the grace of God, Acts_20:24; the glory of the blessed God, 1_Tim_1:11; your salvation, Eph_1:13; peace, Eph_6:15. Cp. also "the gospel of the Kingdom," Matt_4:23; Matt_9:35; Matt_24:14; "an eternal gospel," Rev_14:6."

Or try Barclay's New Testament Words:

http://www.google.com.sg/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=17&url=http%3A%2F%2Fbooks.google.com.sg%2Fbooks%3Fid%3DngnOdquk9DUC%26pg%3DPA101%26lpg%3DPA101%26dq%3DEuaggelion%26source%3Dweb%26ots%3DIrR5PKjgQ_%26sig%3DQbEypWnWINqGvJZg8_PfqgorJF4%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DX%26oi%3Dbook_result%26resnum%3D7%26ct%3Dresult&ei=BLDcSMO_Oo686gPTnJSJBA&usg=AFQjCNGpJ8Y_ArBPuEprHThkwmIll0YsUg&sig2=qXxcwpZvymr7XeRQvC44-g

However you want to study this word "in all its fullness in its original context," "Gospel" cannot mean "the whole counsel of God" or the complete special revelation of God.

Paul himself seemed to define the "Gospel" - τὸ εὐαγγέλιον - in a very narrow sense in 1 Cor 15:1-4.

But we are called to preach the whole counsel of God, not just the Gospel.

Truly yours,

Vincent

PuritanReformed said...

Vincent:

if you want to follow strictly the biblical terminology usage, then sure, I agree with you. I am however using the term in its theological fullness. If you disagree with that, then let us agree to disagree here.

vincit omnia veritas said...

Dear Daniel,

Haha! I really don’t know how my initial comment on this post ended up as a passionate discussion. All in all, I was simply commenting on my experience and individual perception concerning a segment of Reformed preaching in Singapore. No offense was ever intended.

I do agree that any term used in theological discourses may/should be used in “its theological fullness,” but I have always thought that the breath and depth of such theological nuances/meaning should be derived from scripture. And you can guess what I would say concerning the scriptural definition of that word in contention.

And yes, I am following your series on the Law and Gospel, and I look forward to your contributions to this debate.

Yours sincerely and good night,
Vincent

PuritanReformed said...

Vincent:

No offense taken or intended. Was just stating that 'coz I thought your expression was misleading, as though you are separating the Gospel from the whole counsel of God.

vincit omnia veritas said...

Typo:

"... but I have always thought that the breaDth and depth of such theological nuances...", not breath.

In any case, the "breath" was bad. :P

Joel Tay said...

that's an interesting poster. But half of these so called starving sheeps from churches that do not preach the gospel need to first get saved through the gospel.

PuritanReformed said...

Joel:

I agree.