Gospel-Driven Quote of the Week

Running after a train

“It was Karl Barth, I believe, who said that trying to make the gospel relevant to the contemporary age was like running after the train that has just left. ‘The World’ that we are supposed to address with the gospel, that is, is a moving target. By the time we think we are finally getting to understand it, it is too late…When a historical, tragic accident occurs we investigate the causes. We search the wreckage for the ‘black box.’ We understand, if at all, when it is too late…

“The most serious mistake of theological attempts to understand the age is the assumption that the gospel could somehow be made to appear relevant to old beings.”

The fact that many churches – even of our own – do not seem to have learned the simple but apparently hard lesson is no doubt the reason for the transformation of many churches into service organizations, social reform clubs, and support groups, rather than proclaimers of the coming reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Seeking to be relevant to the age, they just succumbed to it. Claiming to be wise, as St. Paul put it, they became fools. The most serious mistake of theological attempts to understand the age is the assumption that the gospel could somehow be made to appear relevant to old beings.

‘The unspiritual’…, Paul tells us, ‘do not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to them, and they do not understand because they [the gifts] are spiritually discerned’ (1 Cor. 2:14)- always a favorite passage used to caution against being overly optimistic about appeals to relevance.”

(Gerhard O. Forde, The Preached God, “Speaking the Gospel Today,” pp. 165-166)

3 Responses to Gospel-Driven Quote of the Week

  1. […] Gerhard O. Forde wrote:  “The fact that many churches – even of our own – do not seem to have learned the simple but apparently hard lesson is no doubt the reason for the transformation of many churches into service organizations, social reform clubs, and support groups, rather than proclaimers of the coming reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Seeking to be relevant to the age, they just succumbed to it. Claiming to be wise, as St. Paul put it, they became fools. The most serious mistake of theological attempts to understand the age is the assumption that the gospel could somehow be made to appear relevant to old beings.” […]

  2. […] relevance by seeking to be relevant! Posted on September 9, 2008 by Peter Cockrell John Fonville at ‘The Gospel-Driven Blog’, (a favorite of mine), posts this important […]

  3. […] this kind of sermonic moralizing is done in the name of “relevance.” Quite frankly, I grow weary of this idea of “relevance.” Should the preacher be […]

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