I’m doing a few posts on what Scot had to say. And I should say that these are just based on my notes.
Much of the content of the lectures will be the material for a new book The Earliest Christian Gospel – so we were treated to a special preview.
This is the last post on what Scot had to say. A key question that was raised was this:
How preach the gospel to this generation?
Given the increasing remoteness of Christianity to this generation, combined (especially in the USA) with a self-esteem movement that tells us that everyone is ‘OK’: this generation finds it hard to imagine that God (if he exists) could be angry at them.
So how connect to a post-Christendom culture? How does the gospel that Scot has been unpacking help?
Scot suggested that we in Ireland need to spend much time listening. Listening to what the twenties and younger are saying and doing, especially in our local communities.
I have my hunches of what we’d hear … what do you think these voices would be saying?
– pursuit of experience? Consumerism?
– desire for relationship?
– anger at the older generation’s greed and bankrupting of the country?
– environmental concern?
– cynicism at all authority figures, power-plays and institutions, especially the church [and there is pretty well not an institution in Ireland that does not have its reputation lying on the floor in tatters]
– desire to make the world a fairer, more just place?
– independent, autonomous, questioning
And Scot told stories of how in his compulsory Jesus class at university, he finds students becoming Christians as he tells the radical, subversive, counter-cultural story of Jesus, the crucified Messiah, who is raised from the dead, is declared Lord of all, and demands that all who would follow him give up everything to do so ….
The gospel of Jesus calls his followers to take up their cross, enter his kingdom in faith and join in his redemptive purposes for the world in the here and now. To work for an end to injustice, poverty and environmental destruction. To see our lives as not just ‘about us’ or even ‘me going to heaven when I die’ – but giving up everything to follow the risen Lord wherever that will lead.
This gospel calls us to help people imagine a world in which all the things we long for – beauty, justice, truth, relationships – are put right. But they are being put right now in the most unlikely way – through the death and resurrection of a Jewish Messiah, who has poured out God’s Spirit.
This gospel calls each one of us to decide – to which story do I belong? My own pursuit of significance, or happiness or experience? Or to join a far greater story – the story of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Lord of all through whom alone is hope found that one day God will be all in all.