From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

Gospel and Opposition

“Here is, as it were, a certain characteristic of the divine Word, that it never comes forth while Satan is at rest and sleeping. This is the surest and most trustworthy mark to distinguish it from lying doctrines, which readily present themselves, are received with attentive ears by all, and are listened to by an applauding world.” – John Calvin, Institutes, Prefatory Address

Calvin is saying that the divine Word elicits opposition, therefore when our teachings or words are applauded by all, that’s a pretty good sign they’re NOT the divine Word. Seems to me this is 180 degrees from where our culture is – it’s GOOD to be popular, in demand. Seems to me this is 180 degrees from the type of evangelism that identifies people’s needs, then strives to meet those needs in order to be in demand. Pop music in church is in demand? We should provide it. Apostle’s Creed too hard to memorize? We should print it out, or drop it out. We call it being “user friendly” but I think that translates into “received with attentive ears by all, and lsiten to by an applauding world.”

The gospel is not “user friendly” – just the term “user” is wrong for the gospel (we don’t use it like a tool to reach our own goals), but even granting the use of the term “user”, the gospel is “user transformative” . The aim is not to reach our goals and meet the needs we think we have; it’s to reach God’s goal and meet the need we deny we have.

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