Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Shall we knock it off or proclaim Christ?

The question isn’t “Has the whole world heard the gospel,” the question is “Does Christ still call the Church to proclaim good news?” But the Rev. Dr. Randall K. Bush, preaching at his church, on July 1, during the General Assembly, insists that it is time to “knock it off” and “cut it out.”

Bush's view of the Church’s mission is simple—Micah 6:6-8. In Bush’s O Church, What Does the Lord Require of You, posted on the Covenant Network’s site, he presents a rather pallid and misinformed view of the history of missions. He divorces that history from any biblical references to missions beginning his historical overview with:

In the fullness of time, the good news of Jesus Christ came into our world. At some point we began treating it like a commodity – as something that some possessed and others did not possess. Those who possessed it read their scripture and decided that they needed to go out and share this possession with others, and make disciples of all nations.
From there Bush skips to William Carey the early nineteenth century missionary to India. After Carey and a scattering of American evangelists such as Billy Graham are dismissed with the tongue in cheek understanding that the good news has already been preached to the whole world, Bush has two main points:
Once the evangelical commotion of the modern church is turned down for a moment, the wisdom of other people of faith can be heard again.
Once the evangelical commotion of the New Testament is turned down for a moment, the wisdom of our foundational faith can be heard again. Micah 6: O mortals, God has told you what is good: To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God
In answer to Bush’s dissolution of the mission of the Church and his disregard for the completeness of the word of God, there must be a proper definition of the good news as well as a proper exegesis of Micah 6. (Bush does attempt an exegesis, but because he disconnects it not only from the New Testament but also from the Old Testament it is not helpful to the question of proclaiming the good news.)

So biblically speaking what is the good news?

It isn’t just that God loves unconditionally, nor that God is seeking through humanity a world of goodness and righteousness—these concepts or ideas are simply modern religious versions of political ideology and/or modern views of parenting. Instead one must go to Christ and his word.

The writer of Colossians explains that not only were all things created by Christ, but all things were created through him and for him. All that is, and that will be, exists because of and for Jesus Christ. So the mission of the Church, her proclamation of the good news has its beginning and purpose in Jesus Christ. This good news begins with God’s gracious act in Christ, “for he rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of his beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin.” (Col. 1:13-14)We are taken out of an evil kingdom and secured in a righteous place which belongs to the Son.

In the life, death and resurrection of Christ those individuals who are reborn, changed, made new, make up the Church which is Christ’s. Christ makes even creation new, but through the transformation and resurrection of his people.

For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:19-21)

Free from condemnation Jesus opens the way for his people to do the works that God has planned for them. (Eph. 2:10) None of this has anything at all to do with the voices of other faiths but it is connected wholly to Christ. And more importantly Micah 6: 6-8 is not disconnected from faith in Christ. Without Christ we will not do justice, love kindness or walk humbly with our God.

Bush speaks of the Hebrew word, “hesed” and using what seems to be process theology writes, “Hesed” redistributes power, refocuses priorities, and by grace redeems us all. “Hesed” believes that nothing we do is ever lost; rather, it all becomes part of God’s eternal memory where it is ultimately judged.” But hesed belongs to God and is covenant love grounded in the redemptive work of Christ. The emphasis needs to be placed on God as he moves in the promises of the coming messiah and their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

If one goes to the ending of Micah chapter 6, all of the oppressive sins of Israel are laid on top of their idolatry. They are following in the way of King Ahab. “The statues of Omri and all the works of the house of Ahab are observed; and in their devises you walk.” (Micah 6: 16)

To do justice, love kindness and walk humbly before God requires that one submit to the true God. It is only through Jesus Christ that one is led to the Father. That is good news and is meant to be proclaimed until the coming of the Lord.


Reformed Catholic said...

Rev Bush said: Those who possessed it read their scripture and decided that they needed to go out and share this possession with others, and make disciples of all nations.

What about Matthew 28:19&20 : Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

If you are a follower of Jesus, you must believe that "making disciples of all nations" is obeying everything He has commanded.

Viola Larson said...


Debbie said...

When one doesn't take the Bible seriously, one can dismiss it as "commotion" and then go ahead and just proclaim what one thinks. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6, for example.) I'm sure that Bush would deny that's what he's doing, but nonetheless, that IS what he's doing.

Debbie Berkley
Bellevue, WA

Anonymous said...

The gospel is the good news that the Son of God, Jesus the Christ, became human and died as atonement for humanity's sin, then rose from the dead so that those who confess him as Lord and believe on the power that raised Him from the dead may have eternal life. Any one who preaches a different gospel will suffer a different fate. As long as a remnant proclaims the true gospel in the PCUSA, there is hope!

Jack Sharpe, Chambersburg, PA

Pastor Dennis said...

Dear Viola, Thank you for disturbing my peace with that sermon to which you refer us. I went off to read it all for myself, and it is sooooo wrong and so wrong-headed in so many ways. It is like a bad characature, but it is real.

Chas Jay said...

Viola, thanks for posting this. I found truth in what he and his cohorts really believe from this paragraph:
Suddenly a hand is raised in the back of the room – persistently waving, hoping to answer my question. When acknowledged, a pious Presby-Baptist-Episcopo-Pentecostal-Christian says, “The best way to live as if race and geography and history don’t matter is to make everyone a follower of Jesus. We should take to heart the Great Commission – Matthew 28:19 – Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Smiling confidently, the person sits down believing they have nailed the pop quiz. Except that their answer was wrong. Really wrong.

Don't they always tell us that there are diverse interpretations? If they really believed such then how could that "pious" looking person's answer be wrong? If they support the message of this sermon then they have lied to us (quel surprise!)

Viola Larson said...

Everyone that has affirmed this posting thank you. I am away at Presbyterian Women's gathering and have not found any time to post or write.