Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Allow me to paint a scenario.

You’re in a room with two other people. One of them is a total stranger who we will assume is not a believer. The other one is a first century Christian like Lydia, Mary Magdalene, Paul or one of the other apostles—someone who is clearly an authentic disciple of Jesus Christ. ...Got it?


The unbelieving stranger asks something like, “Are you religious?” Then somehow they give you the green light to tell them how a person can be saved. ...Still with me?


How familiar or foreign do you think your gospel presentation would be to the ears of the first century believer?


locutus est said...

well, I'd hope that the gospel presentation would make sense to the contemporary seeker, first of all. I understand the question as "how far have we distorted the gospel message". Is that right? Still, we can't speak Aramaic, and our message will need to be at least a little bit aware of the worldview of the hearer.

Craver Vii said...

I'm lovin that pose with the head-tilt, Bro. It reminds me of... welp-Me!

Interesting thoughts. Language aside, how far would you allow contextualization before reclassifying it as distortion?

L.L. Barkat said...

I'm not sure one needs to contextualize Jesus... while the contextualization of how to follow and worship him might be broad.

Paul was a contextualizer (real word?)... I love his, "I see you worship an unknown god; let me tell you who he is."

Of course, I could avoid all problems here if I just asked Paul, or Lydia, or Mary to answer the question him/her self! :)

Pete Juvinall said...

Craver -

What you dont' realize is that's the pose he gives his prey right before he kills them.

I think the 1st century person would be a bit more familiar with the experiencial aspect of faith and may carry a bit more weight.

It would be a bit easieer to describe something you've physically seen.

I would think the distortion would come from how convoluted the explanation was. More words does not mean more clear. Good concepts sometime just require being succinct.

Are you going to be at Urbana Craver?

Craver Vii said...

Yes Pete, Locutus' picture is very disarming; I totally let my guard down. Thanks for the warning.

Here's another angle on my own picture. It was taken at a restaurant in Manila. It was during a short term missions trip. I hope to go again in '07.

Urbana? No. A bunch of my friends are going, but I'll be visiting family in Kentucky. That sounds like a neat event. Maybe next time.

Now back to the main topic. I love to share the gospel, but I still squirm a little when I think about what it might be like if someone with really solid theology was going over my 10-minute or even 1-hour presentation with a red pen.

When I hear other presentations, and I think something needs to be clarified, I wonder whether I should say something. And usually, I do speak up (in a loving, diplomatic way).

Truth matters, especially as it involves issues of eternity.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Veeeeeeeeeery interesting question. I like to incorporate a lot of OT concepts into the Gospel, so hopefully it wouldn't be too foreign. Paul might be a little wierded out that I would be quoting his letters though.

L.L. Barkat said...

Urbana. Yeah, that's a neat event. I bet you would really like it. :)

I wonder if anyone will live-blog it? Maybe you could ask some of your friends to do so... you know, if they aren't too busy or anything.

Craver Vii said...

Pete Juvinall and
Paul Grant will be working on the Webcast. Paul just wrote a book called Blessed Are the Uncool. I’ll be taking that book me this weekend as I head out of state to visit family.

I wonder if they will let me read. We have this ongoing joke at home, ‘cause Mrs. Craver once walked up to me while I was reading and said something like, “Since you’re not doing anything…” (groan)

I was not a big reader in my youth. Consequently, it requires discipline and forced focus as I labor over each page today. Thank the Lord that my kids are readers.

Stacey will be there. She might jot some notes down too, if she can find the time.

Jonathan, I'm glad to hear that you integrate the Old Testament into sharing the good news. I meet weekly with some people at a local food pantry and find that people are quite interested in seeing how the message of salvation was not a "plan B," but the whole Bible points to the cross.

If you quote the Apostle Paul, he would probably nod his head saying, "I couldn't have said it better, myself." Of course, he would be right, since those words of his that we quote were divinely inspired! But the exposition of those passages that might come from Paul... Ooh, I get chills thinkin' 'bout that!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting question, Craver. I wonder if the first century christians cornered the market on how to express the truth, though. I assume knowing Jesus in the flesh would change the way I presented him.

I always go back to the Koathites on stuff like this. They carried the wrapped up pieces of the tabernacle from place to place. They couldn't unwrap the pieces, though. Everything was too holy for them.

I feel like God has given each Christian a little piece of his tabernacle. Through the power of Jesus we can look at it now. But it's still just a piece.

On the other hand, I think about the people who heard Jesus and loved that he spoke with authority. My little tabernacle theory basically lets me waffle. I can throw up my hands and say, "This is just my piece. There are other pieces, too."

(Obviously the argument could go too far--bringing in Buddha as another "piece." I'm not talking about that.)

Craver Vii said...

"I assume knowing Jesus in the flesh would change the way I presented him."

Yes indeed, Mark. Thanks for visiting.

Your comment resonates with the idea that drove me to put this post up. How many people who claim to know Christ, have never truly entered into a salvific relationship with Him? History arms skeptics with many atrocities committed by so-called Christians. But just because we meet under a steeple or put a fish sticker on our car, that doesn't mean we know the real Jesus.

We may not be able to go back in time and become eyewitness to the sermon on the mount, but we can still know God quite intimately... residentially. That is to say, having Him reside within us!

So as we invite people to know our God, we must be certain that we ourselves truly know Him. Otherwise, it counts for nothing that we share our beliefs with our neighbor.

How can we possibly go and make disciples of all nations, unless we ourselves are disciples?

I should probably tell the story of how I came to know Christ, but that will have to be another post. For now, I would encourage anyone to visit links like the one I have in my sidebar called Are You Going to Heaven?

Craver Vii said...

So it's clear, I am not saying Mark doesn't know Jesus; I'm agreeing that knowing Jesus impacts the presentation.

Anonymous said...

I know Jesus, everybody! I know Jesus!

(You were pretty clear, Craver, but thanks for being sensitive.)