The “Bad News” in the Gospel

directions 2I’m doing some research into a possible third non-fiction title to come out somewhere down the road, and I have a couple questions.

Recently, in some small group curriculum that my wife and I participate in, there was this quote; “The Gospel consists of both good news and bad news. The gospel becomes active in a person’s life when there is a response to it.” Examples given were drawn from John 3:16 and Romans 6:23.  My questions is this: Is there really bad news in the “good news” of God through Christ? And further, should there be? Why, or why not?

6 thoughts on “The “Bad News” in the Gospel”

  1. When companies market a product they will use one of two ways to do it. They will either tell you how much good the product will do for you or they will tell you about the bad thing(s) that might happen if you don’t get it. Like toothpaste for example – an advertisement might focus on how it will freshen your breath and whiten your teeth or another advertisement might talk about preventing gum disease. So I think maybe there is always a good news/bad news way of looking at things.

    When I think of Jesus coming to earth to die and rise again so that we could be the righteousness of God, to me it’s all good news. There may be a bad consequence for any that refuse to believe in him, but I can’t imagine why anyone would not believe after they have heard the good news. So that’s just my point of view – many people think about the consequences of not believing and it drives them to want to save people. An example might be William Booth. He started the Salvation Army because he felt that Christians needed to actively reach out and pull in the lost that were being swept away. So I can’t fault him for that. His vision and compassion has done a lot to help people.

    I guess that I just go back to the idea of love and fear and using one or the other to communicate about Jesus and for me “perfect love casts out fear” so i choose love.

  2. As a non-believer, I mostly see the gospel as bad news. The opening premise of the gospel is that all of humanity is flawed in some deep-seated way that we can’t resolve on our own. I find that problematic right out the gate.

    Next, the “solution” to that “problem” is human (and deity?) sacrifice.

    Then, the sacrifice itself isn’t enough, because most versions of Christianity maintain that people have a part to play to make it work, either through faith alone or through faith and works. Either way, this creates an in-group/out-group dynamic which can lead to its own problems.

    Finally, as Russ mentioned, you have whatever punishment awaits those who aren’t convinced. Christians disagree over what this punishment is, how long it might last, and whether or not there’s actually a punishment at all. However, I just finished reading Francis Chan’s book Erasing Hell, which is kind of an answer to Rob Bell’s Love Wins. Despite the title, Chan’s book argues that the concept of a literal Hell is definitely biblical — I think he makes a really strong case. Worth reading.

    To me, the gospel is not just the part about Jesus providing an avenue of salvation. The gospel includes the whole system: God’s displeasure with his creation, the unrealistic standards that he created, the horrifying and despicable punishment that he devised for everyone, and the barbaric nature of his method of salvation.

    To be clear for anyone who’s reading this and doesn’t know me: I’m not saying all this because I’m angry or because I simply don’t like it. I’m saying this because I simply don’t believe the claims of Christianity, and to me, these points illustrate the irrationality of the gospel.

    Anyway, I think this would be a really interesting topic for you to cover, Kent! I look forward to reading your thoughts on it. And I hope you’re doing well!

    1. As always, Nate, your input and views are always welcome here. I appreciate your point of view and you’ve given me a few details to think on and reason through. Although I’m a huge fan of Chan’s “Crazy Love” book, I read his Erasing Hell a few years ago and I’ve lately been struggling with some of his conclusions (as I’ve touched on in exchanges with Arch in the past). On the homefront, we’re doing well here on the Northwest side, but the rain can stop aaaannnyy time.

      1. I wish it would come down here! It’s been dry here for quite a while. Watching a kids’ soccer game right now is like sitting in dust storm. 😦

        Anyway, that’s cool that you’ve also read Erasing Hell. I’ll shoot you an email about it soon, because I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Take care, brother!

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