Sorry for the long hiatus I've taken from blogging. It was not at all my intention to do so, but it has been an unusually busy several weeks. But I'm back now!
I am at the Gospel Coalition conference with John Piper, Don Caron, Tim Keller, Crawford Loritts, Mark Driscoll, and others. It's a short one--half-day to day and half-day tomorrow, but it has been worth the trip. The concern of this coalition is that the gospel is being compromised and forsaken in several ways within the pale of evangelicalism, and they want to restore a biblical understanding of the same in thought, affection, and practice.
The highlight of the day for me was Don Carson's presentation. Dr. Carson is a professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Here's a quick summary of the introduction to his talk:
The Gospel is much more than something that is told, or that happens, in a moment in time, rather it is the all-embracing category that holds the entire Bible together. In our day, as in others, there are other points of view on this matter:
(1) Some think that the gospel is the news you hear and to which you respond that becomes a sort of "tipping point" into Christianity and then you move on to other things, like worship, obedience, prayer, study, service, and such.
(2) Some think that the gospel is tantamount to the great commandment to love God and others. Dr. Carson did not mention this book, but I read a book in seminary entitled "Godding." The thesis of the book is that one's religion is not relevant to God; what matters is if one loves one's neighbor as one's self. This kind of thinking is alive and well in many sectors of the church today.
(3) Some think that the Gospel is the whole of the ethical teachings of Jesus, and that if one simply walks in them and follows them one will be saved. The problem is that without the benefits of the gospel as the Bible conceives it, such a way of life is impossible.
(4) Some simply assume the gospel and engage in other peripheral activities in such a way that those other activities take center stage. But when attention and passion are given to these other activities in this way, they make light of the gospel and essentially replace the gospel with themselves. Instead, Carson passionately asserted, the gospel itself must be the thing that ignites and sustains our passion.
I have been preaching through Ephesians at our church and have recently come to 2:4-10, which is all about the gospel. So, I've been thinking about these things deeply for some time, and I must tell you, Carson's comments were so moving and meaningful to me. He went on to define the gospel with eight key words which I will only list here without much explanation:
The gospel is...
1. Christological--it's all about Christ
2. Theological--it's all about God the Father
3. Biblical--it's "according to the Scriptures"
4. Apostolic--it's handed down from the apostles
5. Historical--it's rooted in history
6. Personal--it's about grace applied to lives
7. Universal--it's for all nations
8. Eschatological--it's summed up, finally, at the end of time as we know it.
I'll be back tomorrow to share more. Please pray for me as I listen and reflect on the meaning of all of this for life and ministry.