Actually, the program is called “Why Christ Alone Saves,” but the discussion quickly goes to the heart of evangelicalism’s selling-out of the Gospel: we’ve convinced ourselves that we don’t need to be saved by a bloody savior. It’s one of the best WHI’s I’ve ever heard and it’s must listening for readers of this web site. Eventually they get into other aspects of the salvation we have in Jesus, and it’s all good.
Be sure and save/print out the featured William Willimon piece on “It’s Hard to be Seeker Sensitive When You Work for Jesus.” It’s a two page pdf.
A highlight for me is a discussion of just how useless the crucifixion of Jesus is in much of evangelicalism today. If our great need is to be delivered from the wrath of God, then Jesus is our mediator. But what if our big problem is losing ten pounds? Finding a bigger house? Paying for college? Getting out of debt? What if the guilt that concerns us is the guilt of not having a pool like our neighbor? What if the center of our prayers is the moral life of our kids or our physical health? Do we actually need a crucified Jesus for any of these things?
A few weeks ago I was at a gathering of people from all over America, many from various ethnic communities. The preacher of the day was a Southern White evangelical. As he preached, I noted when the audience responded with “amens,” etc. It was universally on any statement that referred to material blessings, or the idea of prosperity. On statements referring to Jesus as atoning savior, there was almost no reaction.
The prosperity gospel isn’t on the fringe any more. As Willimon says, churches now advertise that they “have what you are looking for.” What is the average American looking for? A bloody savior to deliver from the wrath of God? Or success in life?
And one other outstanding post. SBC blogger Timmy Brister touches on what I’ve wanted to say many times: the Reformed community, and especially the blogosphere, needs to ask itself some questions about its fan-clubs of reformed preachers. There are entire reformed blogs that treat men like Biblical heroes. Sites like the “Hall of Contemporary Reformers” ought to shut our mouths when we think of criticizing Catholics or Charismatics for their man-honoring tendencies. Reading female reformed bloggers swooning over their favorite reformed preachers, especially the ones that acknowledge their existence, is sickening. Someone needs to get it together. Evangelicals are following right after fundamentalists in promoting the reputations of men. Will we never learn?
Brister gets close to another question that I’ve often wanted to raise: Just how much time off to go to conferences do some pastors take? Reading some blogs, it seems that attending 4-6 conferences a year isn’t unusual for some pastors. Talk about your Deadheads 🙂
I once served a church that was very generous. Leased car. Clothing allowance. And one conference. Plus alternating years at the state and national convention. Four to six conferences? I couldn’t have done my job and my wife would have not been a happy camper being left to single parent for weeks at a time. What’s up with this? Is this what “elder led” churches can look forward to? It raises some issues of accountability that should be discussed.