Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tim Keller's Gospel

A Facebook friend shared a post from Tim Keller this morning:

The Gospel is—we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, and at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.

Εὐαγγέλιον, the Greek word for "gospel," literally means "good news."

This good news is a mixed bag, wouldn't you say? It's mixed with bad news, like the doctor who says, "I've got good news! You have cancer! And we can cure it!" Sure, the fact that the doctor is confident that you can be cured is good news, but the cancer itself is not part of that good news. That's the bad news!

So Keller is off the mark here: he mistakenly applies both the bad news and the good news to a word that only means good news. He needs to tell you the bad news (and recognize it as such) before he can tell you the good news, and he really should only be calling the good half of his message Gospel.

But even if he did that, the good news is only good news if the bad news is true. If my doctor gave me the bad news that I have cancer and then said that the good news was that they could treat it, but was mistaken about the cancer, than his good news is no longer good news. It's irrelevant news.

"Hey, we can treat your cancer!"

"Um, I don't have cancer."


So, is Keller's bad news true?

Am I more sinful and flawed in myself than I ever dare to believe? And if so, is there a way I can tell this to be true, or do I just have to take Keller's word for it?

Now, I agree that I have flaws I'm unaware of. I am often blind to my shortcomings until people point them out to me.

But I recognize this. Keller is claiming that I am more flawed and sinful than I dare to believe. Does he have any evidence for this? And he's going to need some pretty strong evidence if he just wants to assess all of humanity in one sweeping blanket statement!

I don't buy it. I can't think of a reason to accept his statement as true about me. I'm not perfect, and I definitely have blind spots. But what sins have I committed and what personal flaws do I have that I don't dare believe? Point them out to me, please!

I suspect this is another example of a kid who believes himself to be stupid because he's been told his whole life that he's stupid, and not because he is actually stupid.

I've been told my whole life that I'm a wicked sinner. That I am more flawed than I dare to believe. And if I were still a gullible child, I might believe it, just because someone told me so. But I am not a gullible child any more. I refuse to be wicked just because you tell me I am.

And if you want me to believe that I'm wicked, you need to provide me with evidence of my wickedness. Because unless you do, you are disguising news that is false as true, and news that is irrelevant as Gospel.

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