Friday, August 3, 2012

Of Chickens, Christ, Law and Gospel

Too much has been written on the controversy over Chik-Fil-A scion and exec Dan Cathy's comments about traditional marriage, and the support of Chik-Fil-A that was rallied yesterday.  So why not add more?

Except, I simply want to consider it from one angle, and that is from this question: Do we expect the world will be more friendly to the gospel than it is to the law?

It's a hot topic for debate --how should the Christian interact with the unbelieving world?  Should he do it with law or gospel?  Myself, I don't think we can generalize.  Jesus used law where people's hearts were hard and self-righteous, and they had to be shown they were sinful (like the Rich Young Ruler).  Jesus used gospel where people's hearts were already broken --they knew they were sinners, and they needed grace.

But, the meme that seems to be current that troubles me is this:  If only we (or those) stupid evangelicals understood that if we showed (or spoke) the gospel instead of standing up for traditional marriage, then maybe secularists would know we're not hateful, and they'd accept us, and we'd get invited to their parties like Jesus did, and we would be able to bring the gospel to them sans the offense.

Now, this is not about whether or not boycotts or rally days or political action, or buying chicken or portly former Arkansas governors of the left or the right.  That is an issue for another time, and it's been exhausted.

It's an issue of whether or not it's true that the gospel is somehow less offensive than the law.  There is no question that the law can offend.  People who are flagrant violators of the law are offended by the law.  But, pretty decent outwardly moral people like the law's message which is "do this, and live."  Salvation by decency.  Very doable, very nice, and nice people can do it.  Moral, respectable people can do it.  Or, they think they can.

The truth is, whether we lead with gospel or law, we are going to be offensive.  The gospel is more offensive than the law because it hits humans at the point of pride.  "Do this and live" stokes pride.  "You can't do it no matter how hard you try" slaps pride down.  We don't like it.  I don't care how degraded a person is --by nature, we don't like the gospel.  It is only by grace that we come to like, and then to love, the gospel.  The gospel shows me who I am, and I don't like that picture very much.  I'd rather not look in that mirror.  But, the gospel doesn't leave me in the crumpled heap of an accurate self-assessment.  It shows me a savior who is God himself, who died for me, not just so I can go to heaven when I die (which is a grand thing) but so that I can be restored to that original dignity for which I was created --not the mess I have made out of it.

So, think Chik-Fil-A is gauche.  It's okay.  Think that all the Christians who supported it are misguided or whatever.  But, don't kid yourself in thinking that if Chik-Fil-A, or you or me, or the coolest hippest pastor out there, led with gospel instead of law, he'd get the love of the world.  If the world hates you, it hated me first.  That is from the lips of the walking Gospel himself.


  1. I think John 7:7 is a good passage for Christians to memorize and internalize.

  2. "If only we (or those) stupid evangelicals understood that if we showed (or spoke) the gospel instead of standing up for traditional marriage, then maybe secularists would know we're not hateful, and they'd accept us, and we'd get invited to their parties like Jesus did, and we would be able to bring the gospel to them sans the offense.

    So you think evangelicals are stupid. You just lost your credability.

  3. Think maybe you missed the point anonymous

  4. Yes, Anon. My point was completely the opposite. It is rather that others are critiquing WE evangelicals for standing with Chick-Fil-A.

    Not sure how that got missed.

  5. "Traditional marriage" is part of th Gospel." One man joined to one woman is part of the Gospel. If you think not, you had better go back and read the Gospel to see what Jesus said and did concerning marriage.

  6. Well, I've had to go to moderated comments, for obvious reasons. Anonymous comments are still welcome, if they're respectful and on point.

  7. Ken,

    I thought this was a great post and brilliant point. Grace offends the natural mind, and has ever since Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with fig leaves.

    So, perhaps we try to be even-handed in our offensiveness? Offend with both Law and Gospel in equal measure? That way, people actually looking for grace have something to find from us other than pronouncements on the cause-de-jour. Not sure how to do that in the public realm, but it's just a thought.

  8. Chris, I guess it's a judgment call as to how well we have done this. I can think of great examples where we have (Billy Graham and Prison Fellowship would be two great examples).

    I would also say I don't think traditional marriage is a "cause du jour." It's only an issue because it is being challenged. So, as Luther (kinda) said, we are called to defend the truth at every point, especially where it is under attack.

    The "we" is rather amorphous and disorganized. So yes, preach the gospel, and words are necessary!!

  9. Didn't mean to imply that a "cause du jour" was necessarily unimportant, only that the secular culture is expecting to hear about it from us, so from time to time we might surprise them with some grace rather than giving into the normal talking points. Again, not sure how to do that.... which is not say giving the Law is not part of the program.

  10. Ken, spot on. Whatever the issue du jour, we owe people the whole truth. Gospel is not good news at all without the context of the law and God's holiness, so yes we owe them both. Perhaps the challenge is not so much the content of the message as the manner in which it is communicated, and there's the rub. When we are in a position to speak on these matters, whether publicly or in one on one conversation (and I'm carving out preaching here as a separate category) do we do so with obvious humility and in a spirit of love, acknowledging our own brokeness and need of this same grace since there is "no one righteous"? There is no doubt that we need to be willing to call sin sin but it sure seems like (and I'm pointing the finger at myself here) its a lot easier (and more appealing to my pride) to thunder as if from Sinai than to shed tears on my knees for those whose minds are darkened.