The Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission (ERLC) national conference kicked off yesterday and the theme of the conference is how to engage culture effectively with the Gospel. Dr. Russell Moore sat with Pastor Andy Stanley to discuss leadership, preaching and cultural engagement.
In their conversation Pastor Andy Stanley speaking to pastors said “I would tell pastors to get the spotlight off the Bible and back on the resurrection.” As you can imagine Pastor Andy Stanley’s statement sent shockwaves throughout the twitter sphere. When I heard it I cringed a little and when ERLC releases the conference video I plan on relistening to their convertsation. But as I sat and contemplated what I heard of the conversation, I must say, Pastor Andy Stanley’s statement puts forth a false dichotomy.
The Bible and the ressurection of Christ are not at odds with each other. The Bible is the spotlight a “lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). What is the Bible spotlighting? The life, death and ressurection of Jesus Christ. We would have no idea of the ressurection of Jesus without Spirit inspired writers informing us of the historical event.
One day when Jesus was engaging the religious culture of his day he said,
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. – John 5:39-40
Jesus was pointing out that the Old Testament Scriptures, which they studied profusely, bore witness to Christ. The Bible wasn’t at fault for their lack of recognition of truth it was their refusal to come. Jesus pointed out it was their hearts, which refused to come, as the reason they didn’t find life in Christ. So if you follow the thread in the passage, accepting Christ leads to life, but the only way we know about that life is through the Scriptures. The Bible and Jesus Christ are forever linked, you can’t come to Christ without the Gospel which the Scriptures proclaim and you will not understand the Scriptures without Jesus Christ.
We must engage culture with the Gospel, which we find in the Bible. The content of our message is immutable, but how we engage the culture is crucial to being effective Gospel witnesses in the 21st century. Peter exhorts us to engage the culture with gentleness and respect.
In the past our methods of engaging people with the Gospel have been cringe worthy. Instead of being Gospel people witnessing with gentleness and respect we have repelled people by our witness. I don’t know how many times I have heard “God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve.” Do we actually believe a comment like that will actually bring the LGBQT community to the table to discuss the Gospel. What about referring to those of another race as “those people” or racial slurs, do we really believe we are speaking with gentleness and respect? In our increasingly pluralistic and diverse society we must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. The Gospel is offensive do not add to the offense by how you engage the culture.
You can livestream the conference which kicks off at 8:30 am on Friday.
Until Next Time
Solo Deo Gloria