The Super Bowl this year came and went as usual, but there were some unique exceptions. A religious organization called, ‘He Gets Us’ aired two commercials aimed to bring the truth of Jesus into millions of homes. According to USA Today, they aired two spots within the broadcast at seven million dollars for 30 seconds of airtime. The first commercial urged viewers to “be childlike” while replaying still and moving images of children ranging from reuniting after quarantine to hugging to sharing headphones on a bus. A 60 second ad later in the game interspersed images of anger, riots and robberies, domestic disputes followed by neighbors yelling at one another. There were school fights and a heated discussion between a white and black man, every kind of division leading to a message of inclusion.
Curious as to more about this organization, I went to their website, hoping to at least find a gospel message in their ‘About Us’ statement. This is a summation of what they are about: “Ultimately, we want people to know his [Jesus’] teachings and how he lived while here on Earth. And this will be a starting point to understanding him and his message. Though we believe what he was what Christians call fully God and fully man, that may not be what you believe. We are simply inviting you to explore with us at He Gets Us, how things might be different if more people followed his example…”
“Discernment is not the ability to tell the difference between right and wrong, rather, it is telling the difference between right and almost right.”Charles Spurgeon
Sounds good, right? The biggest fumble of the Super Bowl was a lost opportunity to reach millions with the true gospel of Christ. The gospel according to He Gets Us, is no gospel at all. There was no call to repentance. No explanation of why Jesus came to earth other than to be a good moral example. If you do not believe he was God incarnate, no worries, this Jesus had no other agenda other than to let us all know he understands and gets us, and leads us in the path of true human enlightenment. Which is what? That old/new age religion of, ‘Can’t we all just get along?’ The tag along message at the end of the commercials was this, “Jesus loved the people we hate. Jesus gets us. All of Us.”
I agree, He does get us, all of us. He gets how deeply and utterly depraved we are. That is why He came to die.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from truth and wander off into myths.”2 Timothy 4:3-4
So what is the big deal, right? Why I am writing this blog post, being critical and divisive and, as many will think, unloving? The reason is simple. We are called to give a defense of the gospel, to be discerning and expose error, and to stand with the truth taught by Jesus and the Apostles. Our final authority is Scripture, not our emotions or intuitions, and that is the plumb line to which all things must stand or fall.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…”2 Timothy 2:15
The first thing is to establish is what is the gospel, and why must we defend it even possibly at the cost of our very lives?
It is the plan of God and according to His good pleasure, he sent His Eternal Son who is the exact representation of the Father’s nature. The Son willingly left the glory of heaven, was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin, and was born the God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth. (Acts 2:23, Heb 1:3, Phil 2:6,7 Luke 1:35) As a man, he walked in perfect obedience to the law of God (Heb 4:15). In the fullness of time, men rejected and crucified him. On the cross he bore the sins of His people and suffered the wrath of God, and died in their place. On the third day, God raised him from the dead. This resurrection is the divine declaration that the Father has accepted His Son’s death as a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus paid the penalty for our disobedience, satisfied the demands for justice, and appeased the wrath of God. (Lk 24:6, Rom 1:4, Rom 4:25) All who acknowledge their sinful helpless state and throw themselves on the mercy of Christ, God will fully pardon, declare them righteous and reconcile them to Himself. (Mk 1:15, Rom 10:9, Phil 3:3)
This is the gospel or good news of God and His Son Jesus Christ. It is how we have eternal life and are saved from hell and eternal separation from God. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians warns that, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let Him be accursed.” (Gal 1:8) It is the message the Apostles and missionaries and faithful followers of Christ have fought and died for down throughout the centuries. And as there is nothing new under the sun, we must also fight against false gospels and distortions sown by our enemy in our times as well. Jesus Himself warned that “Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. (Matt 24:11)
“We must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that we may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also rebuke those that contradict it.”Titus 1:9
So what is the social gospel?
“Social Gospel: An approach to the Christian faith, popularized by Walter Rauschenbusch early in the twentieth century, that emphasizes the social implications of the gospel and calls the church to give attention to social action on the basis of a theological vision of the kingdom of God. Proponents of the social gospel assert that the Christian task includes partnering with God in transforming human society along the lines of the kingdom of God, a goal advanced by means of the regeneration of all human relationships. Social gospel advocates call on Christians to work for the transformation of economic structures that perpetuate poverty and injustice.” (Grenz, Stanley j., and Jay T. Smith. Pocket Dictionary of Ethics. The IVP Pocket Reference Series, Downers Grove, IL. InterVarsity Press, 2003.)
One of the main problems with the Social Gospel is it assumes that people are basically good and society is bad. The social justice warriors fail to realize that society’s problems are a reflection of the problem of the people, not of bad government or society. It ignores and even at times denies that people are sinners who need to be born again. Their advocates tout their ideologies of social redemption sometimes by pushing socialist and Marxist ideas that take away freedom and rights. They do this by advocating the so called positive qualities of the redistribution of wealth, the guarantee of equal opportunity, better accesses to economic, education and medical resources. They also define what societies problems are: racism, homophobia prejudice, transphobia, white supremacy, economic inequality, etc. They want gender and marriage “equality” as well. This is the agenda of the world and those who compromise the true gospel of Christ. The reality is that the adherents of this false social gospel will turn against Christians who hold to the true gospel.
“Walter Rauschenbusch had dedicated himself to revising the attitude of American Christians. He believed that the churches [sic] agenda had replaced Jesus’ agenda, which he called the Kingdom of God. Rauschenbusch taught that the duty of Christians is not a matter of getting individuals to heaven, but of transforming life on earth into the harmony of heaven.” (Carm.org: What is the social gospel and is it biblical?)
There is no doubt that Dr. Rauschenbusch would be pleased to know that his ideologies are alive and thriving today. Ideas have consequences, and we are reaping the fruit in our day and age.
But is this what Jesus had in mind when He gave the Great Commission?
What is the true social gospel and what should be our attitude towards the general unbelieving society?
Do we address people’s spiritual needs by means of sharing the gospel, but meet their physical needs by giving them material necessities regardless of whether or not they repent?
Bryan Hodge in his article, ‘Gnosticism and the Dichotomy of Spiritual and Physical Blessings’ makes this point, “I think this shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel, one I think is Gnostic in nature. What it essentially says is that salvation is of the spirit. Any spiritual salvation we offer to an unbeliever must be received by his repentance and faith, but salvation is not of the physical. That’s just something restored through a different means. Hence, we can give the unbeliever the physical world that Christ inherited and is now found in the deposit/first fruits of his kingdom, since that has nothing to do with whether he receives the gospel”
He calls this alarming “since creation is not restored outside of the gospel message…”
Can the unbeliever be restored to the physical creation outside of receiving Christ as Lord?
“The physical needs he receives comes from the common grace of his own nations/kingdoms that, according to the Bible are passing away. They are not of Christ’s kingdom both now and to come, and should not be given by the church to him then.”
“The entire restoration of creation has been funneled through the gospel and is applied to only those in Christ, not those outside of him.”
Therefore, “this is precisely why the unredeemed are removed from the created order in the end. They receive none of the physical inheritance-not now, not then. That’s God’s decision. That is God’s plan. Everything is found in Christ, and everything outside is lost to him”
So what is the true social gospel and how should we address these issues?
“The gospel addresses, however, the whole man, not just his spiritual needs…and we as Christians “address the whole need, spiritual and physical in Jesus Christ and His gospel, not apart from it..otherwise we are simply offering the unbeliever a Gnostic gospel.”
Craig Bloomberg sums it up, “God’s foremost desire for his fallen world is reconciliation: humans reconciled first of all to God, then to each other, then ultimately to the entire cosmos. Thus God is in the process of fashioning what the bible regularly calls a new creation. But biblical salvation is always holistic-involving body and soul, material and spiritual dimensions. A major component of the material dimension is transformation in the way God’s people utilize ‘mammon’ material possessions. To the extent that the kingdom has been inaugurated from the cross of Christ onward, Christians individually and corporately are called to model that transformation, however imperfectly, as a foretaste of the perfect redemption that must ultimately await the age to come”(Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Material Possessions 246-47)
So in conclusion, what is our responsibility to the outside unbelieving world? Are we to ignore the suffering of those outside of Christ? Of course not, but we need to do it with an understanding that is biblical. Our first responsibility is to our fellow believers, those in the household of faith. Then our responsibility towards those outside is a holistic gospel, one that produces the inward transformation of that individual, and therefore results in an outward transformation.
One thought on “A Super Bowl Fumble”
He gets us and Christians get Him. Let’s not be stingy with the Gospel. Great post!