Hey! Following the break is an article of mine that ran in Taylor University’s student newspaper The Echo this past Friday. Enjoy it!
Last week, Taylor University hosted Alistair Begg as its Spiritual Renewal week speaker. Dr. Begg spoke with words fueled by his passion for proclaiming gospel truth unbound by the popular fads of Evangelical Christianity today. In the vast sea of steady waters and smooth sailing that is the theology of Taylor students, Dr. Begg radically rocked some students’ boats unabashedly proclaiming gospel truth.
It is obvious that Dr. Begg has spoken at Christian college campuses before because he knew exactly what issues most Taylor students have in regards to their faith in Christ. He reminded us that much of the doctrine we believe today is, “Theologically vague and harmlessly accommodating.” How comfortable are you in your walk with Jesus Christ? Is He making your life amazing all day, every day? Is your faith, “harmlessly accommodating?” If it is, your faith most certainly “theologically vague.” Life is easy if God is whoever you want Him to be.
The issue of social justice is a popular topic among Taylor students exhibited both in conversation and ministry opportunities. Dr. Begg spoke on social justice in a way that definitely made some of those who work in social justice ministries a bit uncomfortable. Dr. Begg was very adamant about the idea that curing AIDS in sub-Saharan African is not the gospel.
I love that Dr. Begg said this becauseI think, as he also does, that our generation of Christians are so infatuated with the social gospel movement that we begin to simply use Christianity as a motivation to heal people’s physical ailments rather than healing people’s physical ailments as a means to lead them to spiritual healing.
Curing AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa is most certainly a way to love people, and love is one very important part of the gospel of Christ. However, what worth is love apart from Jesus Christ? It’s worth a good feeling and some physical comfort, but apart from the gospel of Christ, those pleasures are only enjoyed until death. Ghandi loved people and he was not a Christian! And as much as Rob Bell would like to tell you otherwise, the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ makes it crystal clear that Ghandi and his good works did not save him. If he did not come to trust Christ as his savior he is in hell right now.
A common defense for keeping the proclamation of the gospel out of social justice ministry is that in providing for people’s physical needs, they may see our lifestyles and want to be Christians. I think it’s important to note that the famous Christian adage, “Preach the gospel and if necessary use words” is not in the Bible—God uses words to reveal Himself to us, why can’t we use words in our social justice to spread His hope? Is the Word of God not enough? Is painting a church in the Dominican Republic enough to spread the hope of the gospel? Most certainly not—Mormons paint churches too. Dr. Begg made some great points regarding social justice and the gospel. While his ideas may have sounded a bit narrow-minded, they are necessary in reaction to the gospel-less social justice that takes place in many “ministries” today.
Out of pages and pages of notes taken while hearing Dr. Begg speak, one more important truth is crucial to Christians of our generation. Paul is convinced in the gospel, and his feelings don’t sustain him. Dr. Begg made it clear that if anything, we must remember to continue in that which we are convinced. Brothers and sisters, are you convinced? In working with teens at a local church and talking to people around campus, I see a problemthat we can call “Scriptural subjectivism.” Are you convinced of the truth of the gospel revealed to us in God’s Word? In response to Dr. Begg’s advice to us, I would encourage you to be convinced in something before you continue in it. My prayer is that you may be able to join Paul in saying, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).