Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church
By John Nugent
We will be reading through the book this month, and posting discussion questions as we go. We hope you will read along with us, and share your thoughts and questions. (Or, even better, get a group of people at your church to read through the book together!)
Q/A with ERB Editor Chris Smith
As an offshoot of our readthrough, John was kind enough to answer some questions that I had about the book…
My take on the book in brief:
I absolutely agree with you about ecclesiology. Our primary call is to be faithful together as communities of God’s people, and this ecclesiology is missing from the activism of many well-intentioned Christians. My experience concurs with you in wanting to call out the sort of activism that too often omits the role of the church from the salvation of God’s coming kingdom. That being said, I wonder if you might be swinging a little too far in reaction to this sort of activism that you minimize the role of the local church in action in its place? I wonder if there might be a perspective that is located between the ones that you call world-centered and kingdom-centered. Perhaps I could call it incarnation-centered. To begin imagining such a view, let’s start with your chart on page 112, and particularly the two columns on the far right hand side. I’m not completely comfortable with the labels for either of these columns, but it seems with a tiny tweaking of the verbiage, an incarnation-centered view could have incorporate these two as a both/and and not an either/or. Yes, God is ultimately “replacing the fallen order,” but scripture also speaks of God redeeming and reconciling all creation. (More on this in a moment). The final column “Christians begin fixing fallen order,” also is problematic. I agree that we don’t “fix” the world by our own human wisdom or human strength. But the nature of God’s design for creation is one of collaboration, and God has provided the Holy Spirit to guide our churches into an active life that embodies Christ among our neighbors in ways that they can engage and be transformed. So, to the extent that we faithful discern the presence of the Spirit in our midst, we become part of God’s “fix” for healing a broken creation.