4th November 2009

Blog :: That's a good question

Recently a commenter on my David Wells and Ecclesiology post asked a great question. I haven't been much help so far and so I turn to you, the reader for help.

In one of your articles or blogs, you mentioned the 4 Spiritual Laws tract as reflecting the inadequate framing of the gospel message by evangelicals.

Recently, my wife and I have become involved in the "Kids Against Hunger" food relief campaign. The suggestion was made to include gospel tracts with the food portions. I was unhappy with the decision to go with "Chick" tracts.

I am contemplating creating a tract that presents the "Christus Victor" idea in a way that would be brief, clear, and universally relevant. Can you help by giving me your ideas of what the basic elements of such a tract should be? Any storyline ideas in which to embed this message? Thanks if you can.

It's a good question and my first response was that somebody with a developed visual sense and familiarity with Christus Victor theology should answer it. I referred bruce to Derek Flood over at sharktacos.com - he's got a great essay on Christus Victor that's been something I return to every so often...

I'm still looking for suggestions though - so I'd like to encourage you to leave your comments. What would a tract look like that communicated the Gospel in some more holistic form than the "If you died tonight, do you know where you would go" style approach?

My own two cents - the good news of the Gospel is not limited to eventual eternal salvation. The recognition that God looked on our condition and came to take part in it and so provide a way to enter into his life now is good news!

I think at all times in history it is possible to look at the world and recognize that it is wrong. Sin is not just personally transgressing God's will in failing to keep moral commands - it is the pervasive condition of life on this planet. Do you see injustice? Do you see war and death, starvation and oppression? And yes - even on a personal level - everyone who is honest recognizes the struggle against whatever moral creed, no matter how basic, that we espouse. We do what we do not want to do and can't see any way of escape! There ain't no rest for the wicked!

The gospel is that this reality is not all there is, that we are not condemned to be slaves to sin but God in Jesus Christ has set us free and is reconciling all things to himself. We can enter now into new life and new creation through the Grace of God, and Jesus is creating for himself a people who should embody that grace in their lives.

How can you tell all that simply and hopefully visually? Well - I'm not talented enough for simple or visual but let me suggest some themes. First clearly the New Testament narrative of Jesus needs to be central. Perhaps start with the hopelessness of life - is this all there is? Does it make sense? The reality of God as loving Father who sent his son to enter into the human condition. That Jesus faithfully followed God in all things in his life - being fully human and yet proclaiming victory over everything that is against us by forgiving sins, healing diseases, eating and drinking with us sinners and for all that he was executed.

I think it's appropriate to depict Satan as the oppressor, the villain of the piece. And from his perspective the cross is his moment of triumph when God in Jesus is beaten by the ultimate weapon of death. And yet because of his faithfulness Jesus' triumphs over death and is resurrected. Real victory is coming, in the meantime the people of God are called to live like Jesus through the Grace of God.

One movie that keeps popping up as I write this is the reality-behind-the-reality of the first Matrix movie - the feeling that this can't be all that there is.

Without the visual element (which I've been assuming - Chick tracts are basically comic books if you've never seen them) - I almost wonder about a tract that did nothing more than present Jesus. That he was God incarnate, lived a life of faithfulness that displayed the liberating power of God, died for us and invites us to follow him! No four step plan of salvation that necessarily is a distillation of theology but rather just the narrative. Here is the man whom I believe to be God - read the Gospels to find out more!

Well - my readers (both of them) doubtless have suggestions. What's the best tract you've seen? Or how would you convey the Gospel in two or three sentences?

Posted on November 4th 2009, 08:32 PM

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