Saturday, January 10, 2009

John 3:16 and Google

Yesterday on my feedreader, I read this article with the headline "Biblical Literacy Reaches New Low"

The writer points to the fact that this week John 3:16 was the most googled item on the web. Why?

"Oddly, because of last night's BCS Championship football game between the Florida Gators and the Oklahoma Sooners. Florida's quarterback, Tim Tebow, came out to play the game with "John 3:16" written on his eye black ("John" under one eye," "3:16" under the other—hopefully in the right order). "

The writer then queries:

"Isn't it awfully telling that people actually had to look up John 3:16 on Google to know what it says?
Before you think I'm an idiot, let me be clear that I know America is biblically illiterate. But have we reached a new low? It used to be that you could bank on people knowing at least a few biblical texts, and John 3:16 was one of them."

This got me thinking:
  1. What other areas in our Christian presentation do we assume people know when they actually do not? So many of our gospel presentations begin with "sin"--and we cannot minimize the reality of sin for a second, I'm not going softy liberal here. But when you and I talk about "sin" with do so within a Biblical worldview--one that for the culture no longer exists. So our talk of sin can make 'god' look like a prick who gets a bit peeved and then blows a gasket--leaving our culture to say "who does God think he is?" Obvious the rebel will always rebel but it might go a bit further is making known the sinfulness of sin if we started with "God" and "creation". So missionaries go to a foreign land and teach a tribe...they often have to start with much more of the Biblical story before you get to "cross".
  2. The core message of Christianity is without a doubt the love of God in sending Christ to be crucified...but is it possible that we are so good as Christians as stating what we are against (abortion, homosexuality, violence, etc.) that people have lost sight of what we actually stand for? We know people think Christians are smug arrogant judgmental folks. While we should not minimize God's judgment on sin for a second, do we (a) freely and openly acknoledge God's condemnation of us and (b) acknowledge God's deep love that causes the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to covenant together for the sacrifice of the Son of bear the just wrath on us. In short, do people know what we are against but not what we are really for. It is what we are "for" that should define what we are "against"--but typically the latter gets our effort and our PR.
Of course, this opens us to attack and insults from all sides. You will have the old guard that may accuse of being soft on sin and associating with sinners. You will have the new religious establishment that will mock us for clinging to outmoded view of God, wrath and sin and mocking penal substitutionary atonement won at the cross that we cherish. You will have at all points people deriding us for sticking to "Christ and him crucified." But if we make it clearly and we suffer for its sake, I'd say we are in pretty good company.

The challenge:
(1) How can we be better at presenting the gospel?
(2) How can we take a page from say Obama's book and rally people around what we are for?
(3) How can we better do these without comprimise? (e.g. Niebuhr's defintion of liberalism "a God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.")

Any thoughts?

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