Unlikeable Gospel | Sojourners

Unlikeable Gospel

A most obstinate misconception associated with the gospel of Jesus Christ is that the gospel is welcome in this world. The conviction -- endemic among churchfolk -- persists that, if problems of misapprehension and misrepresentation are overcome and the gospel can be heard in its own integrity, the gospel will be found attractive by people, become popular, and even be a success of some sort.

This idea is both curious and ironical because it is bluntly contradicted in scripture and in the experience of the continuing biblical witness in history from the event of Pentecost unto the present moment. There is no necessity to cite King Herod or Judas Iscariot or any notorious enemies of the gospel in this connection; after all, while Christ was with them, no one in his family or a single one of the disciples accepted him, believed his vocation or loved his gospel.

After Pentecost, where the Acts of the Apostles evince an understanding and the confession of the gospel, resistance and strife concerning the gospel are equally in evidence among the pioneer Christians, while the consternation and hostility of the world for the gospel was very agitated and quickly aggressive. Furthermore, the letters of the New Testament betell congregations nurtured in the faith amidst relentless temptations of apostasy and confusion and conformity.

Subsequent events in the life of the church, especially since the inception of Christendom in the Constantinian arrangement, and with the institutional sophistication of the churches, only modify this situation by complicating it.

There is, simply, no reason to presuppose that anyone will find the gospel, as such, likable.

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