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The Big Picture

The new Christianity Today showed up in my mailbox today.  It has a very interesting article with James Choung who has designed a new method for presenting the gospel, along the lines of the Four Spiritual Laws or the Bridge to Life.  He calls it the Big Story, and there’s a lot I really like about it.  I like the fact that it emphasizes the Kingdom of God.  It points beyond praying a prayer to include mission as a crucial component.  It seems to follow the storyline of the Bible more than other gospel presentations.  I appreciate the fact that it doesn’t require me to make heaven/hell an issue.  N.T. Wright repeatedly remind us that the Bible’s focus is not on heaven but on resurrection, so a gospel presentation that focuses on heaven seems like focusing on foreplay with your spouse to the exclusion of having sex — yes, it’s part of the process, but that’s not where it’s supposed to end!

I suspect that this presentation’s emphasis on community will resonate more with the current generation of college kids than presentations that were designed to reach my generation.  In the CT article, Choung observed that Gen Xers tended to be disenchanted with the world and more distrustful than Millennials, who tend to have a much greater interest in figuring out how to change the world.  Here is a model that places it’s focus beyond individual redemption to making the world a better place.  Here is a sample of Choung presenting the model.

There are still things I would like to see further emphasized.  It still skips right over the purposes of Israel in God’s plans, which is, after all, 3/4 of the material in the Bible.  It also skims over the notion of God’s wrath and the coming judgement, which is also a prominent biblical theme.  Of course I could make the same accusations of the Bridge to Life and most other gospel presentations.  My biggest problem is that it’s fairly complicated.  There’s a lot of stuff going on there.  Choung uses a little circle around the people to represent their relationship with God, but that symbol is by no means intuitive.  I think the presentation can be used effectively without being quite so involved.  But all in all, I really like it.

 

 Update:  Looks like this post currently comes up on Google’s page ten in a search for ‘James Choung’, just before Choung’s own blog.  Does that make me more of an authority on Choung than Choung himself?  Kinda freaky how Google works sometimes.

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Categories: Evangelism
  1. July 1, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Thanks. I really liked that. It takes evangelism beyond “fire insurance.”

  2. July 2, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Hey Ryan! Long time no see. I am afraid I had lost your blog address and only recently added your blog to my Google Reader.

    A couple of quick questions:

    Would Bishop Wright approve of this one?

    Would a Jesuit or another well-versed Roman Catholic?

    JK

  3. July 2, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    A couple of questions:

    Would Bishop Wright approve of this one?

    Would a Jesuit or other well-versed Roman Catholic?

  4. September 26, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Hi JK. Sorry your comments got trapped in my spam catcher for a few months. Now they’re out here where they belong.

    Of course I can’t say conclusively what Wright, a Jesuit, or a well-versed Catholic would say. But I suspect that Wright would agree with my analysis. He was challenged to go into biblical scholarship at an InterVarsity meeting. I think he’s generally on board with IV’s agenda for evangelism. I have heard him be mildly critical of canned gospel presentations like this one, but then so is Choung himself. Both are wary of a formula turning into a gimmic. Having said that, I am certain that Wright would want to see the role of Israel brought out, just as I do. The fact that we could through out the entire Old Testament except for the first few chapter of Genesis without having it affect our gospel presentations seems strange to me. For Wright, you can’t give the gospel message of the NT without significant reference to the OT.

    As for a Jesuit or RC, I honestly don’t know. This presentation still presents the need for each individual to become born again. Inasmuch as Roman Catholics reject that doctrine, they will not like this presentation. Inasmuch as they accept it, I expect they will agree with it.

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