Archive for September, 2010
I was recently talking about my book with some dinner guests, and after hearing the title, one gentleman asked, “So what part of the Gospel has been censored?”
He asked a very perceptive question.
Typically when we think of something being censored, we think of something which has been hidden or removed, like bad words being bleeped out of TV broadcasts or black bars meant to erase words or parts of photographs which someone has deemed objectionable. Merriam-Webster defines censor as “to suppress or delete as objectionable.” This brings to mind the Jefferson Bible, in which Thomas Jefferson cut out the portions he didn’t like, or the complete suppression of the Gospel in places like China.
However, the unusual thing about the Gospel is that it is typically not censored in the Western world by removing anything. The Gospel is censored — suppressed and deleted — by adding to it.
The Gospel message according to the New Testament is this:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph. 2:8,9 NIV)
To change this “Jesus plus nothing” formula — even by adding good works like Bible reading, tithing and prayer to simple faith in Jesus — is to delete the Gospel completely. As Paul wrote to the Galatians, if we could gain righteousness through our works, then Christ died for nothing (Gal. 2:21).
The expectations that many churches put on people — things to make us “more holy” or “better” Christians — have the same effect as those black censorship rectangles. They censor the Gospel, eviscerating it, rendering it powerless. What is left is religion — a form of godliness, but without any saving power (2 Tim. 3:5).
The goal of The Gospel Uncensored is to rip off the black bars of censorship wherever we have found them, exposing the raw Gospel of radical grace.