The Gospel is Never Good News to an Unprepared Heart

Sounds like a bit of an internal contradiction, doesn’t it? After all, Gospel is by definition Good News, that’s what the word means. So why the provocative title?

Well, the simplest answer is that I’ve been doing some pondering while reading a few books. It slows down my reading speed a lot, but I think I get more out of it this way. In the first place, it is because I’ve come to the conclusion that the Gospel is not primarilly about my salvation, as it is not primarilly about me at all. That sentence is enough to get me pilloried in some circles, but it seems to be quite clear when we realize that the Gospel is centrally about the Glory of Jesus Christ; the Kingdom of God (of which He is king). (see 2 Cor. 4:4)

This meets humans in one of two broad places, both of which see this possibility as very bad news indeed. The first group, the vintage Pharisee, sees this as bad as fundamentally it takes away from him the centrality of the Gospel. The Gospel (or indeed the entire universe) ceases to be about him, and becomes about some man/deity. He no longer can claim to be making god propitious to him, but instead needs to rely on another alien propitiation. He approaches the judgement seat of heaven and finds it already occupied (for the judgement seat is also a throne, and it does not have space for the pharisee). The pharisee cannot see the reign of God in Christ as good news, because in his heart of hearts, he wanted the job, and secretly believes it to have been stolen from him.

The second group, still in a problem situation, are the despairing sinners. These people actually recognize that they have done wrong in the world, and either seek to pretend that there is no justice in the world (so they can get away with it), or that if there is justice in the world, they cannot receive it. For these people, the reign of God fills them with dread, because this very fact means that the things they do, which they know to be wrong, cannot be thought of well by any just king of the universe.

In all people there is a smattering of both, but I believe that the Pharisee is far more common in the modern world than the despairing sinner. I believe that this misunderstood fact is behind both the plethora of bad “missional” theology, and the plethora of bad “dogmatic” theology.

In the end, there is a need to be brought back to the cross of Christ, where the reign of Christ can bring the usurper pharisee to humility, and the despairing sinner to hope. In both cases though, the cross of Christ must be applied to the situation. Without that, and without the preparation of the Holy Spirit to soften hearts, the Gospel as it actually is will be bad news to most.

Note: for the sake of explanation, a bad theology is any theology that differs from God as He is revealed in scripture and in so doing seeks to usurp the glory of Christ. I leave it to the reader to decide if I am guilty of such bad theology.

Wow, just…. wow. (off topic)

I’ve been reading a book I got at the local Chapters Bookstore today (Ezra Levant, Shakedown: How Our Government Is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights, McClelland & Stewart, 2009), and came to learn some interesting things about my own province. At first, I thought the author had to be making it up, so I went to the House of Assembly Website to check on the Human Rights Code for my homeland, and found that Mr. Levant was in fact correct.

Below is section 22.1 of said Human Rights Code, as listed today on the House of Assembly website:

Powers of investigation

22. (1) The executive director and a person appointed or designated by the executive director may, at all reasonable times, so long as it is reasonably necessary to determine compliance with this Act, enter a building, factory, workshop or other premises or place in the province

(a) to inspect, audit and examine books of account, records and documents; or

(b) to inspect and view a work, material, machinery, an appliance or article found there,

and the persons occupying or in charge of that building, factory, workshop, premises or place shall

(c) answer all questions concerning those matters put to them; and

(d) produce for inspection the books of account, records, documents, material, machinery, appliance or article requested

by the executive director or a person appointed or designated by the executive director.

Now,  I readily admit that I am not a practicing lawyer, but my foggy memory of law school said that a police officer doesn’t have the right to enter a premises for investigation unless they can produce a warrant (something that the HRC at least notes for the copying of documentation in section 22.3 &4). That’s even if the question is one of criminal law. The only exception I remember is just cause based on the reasonable belief that a crime is in the process of being committed.

So why do the human rights people in my province apparently have the right to perform warrantless investigations, demanding even the ability to compel response without the presence of a lawyer,  on private property for the sake of a quasi-judicial complaint, when the police can’t even do that when investigating (one would assume more egregious) criminal activity?

I may need to write a letter to my MHA.

Online Reading (Nov 25, 2008)

Law: The American NAtional Park Police seem to believe a man handing out poppies (what we Canadians know as a symbol of war veterans) is a panhandler.

Evil?: GetReligion comments on the story of a young man who killed himself by overdose while many watched over webcam feed.

Reading: Tim Challies posts a series of tips on how to read better.

And just a simple quote:

Every age has its own outlook. It is especially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds… by reading old books.

— C.S. Lewis from the ‘Introduction’, St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation