May 17, 2009
Question: Is the gospel about saving individual souls or is it about building a Christ honoring culture (Kingdom) on the earth?
This type of question creates false dilemmas that I believe are responsible for disagreements in many areas of evangelicalism today. Most (not all) disagreements come about because the parties involved take opposing sides of an either/or dilemma ("It's either the Word preached or the Sacraments", "It's either the family or the Church", etc.). If only we could recognize that to some degree the truth usually involves both, and we have probably placed too much emphasis on one side or the other.
I think this is what has happened with the question posed above. In our modern hyper-spiritual, individualistic, introspective, even hyper-evangelistic Church culture we have gone too far in focussing on the individual and if we can "get them saved". For these new converts and even for our own children, our focus in discipleship normally consists only of making sure they go to Church, read their Bibles, and have their personal "quiet time". The modern Church's focus is almost totally on what we consider to be personal piety.
We have forgotten that the gospel, while it certainly includes the salvation of individuals, is more about the restoration of man as a community. The gospel is more about restoring how we, as the people of God, relate to God and to one another. The gospel is about how God, in Christ, through Christ, and for Christ has kept His promises to reconcile fallen humanity to Himself. We, the Church, are that new humanity!