Friday, December 02, 2005

The final apologetic...the hermeneutic of the gospel

Francis Schaeffer said that this love and unity were the 'final apologetic'. That is, the ultimate defense of the truth of the gospel. He wrote this: 'Love - and the unity it attests to - is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world. Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are Christians and that Jesus was sent by the Father.'

(p. 92, Graham Beynon, God's New Community, Leicester:IVP)

I do not know why this idea didn't leap out at me when I read the above book. Obviously I was reading too fast again. Thankfully God pointed me to the same idea in Lesslie Newbigin:

How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross? I am suggesting that the only answer, the only hermeneutic of the gospel [his famous phrase], is a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it. I am, of course, not denying the importance of the many activities by which we seek to challenge public life with the gospel - evangelistic campaigns, distribution of Bibles and Christian literature, conferences, and even books such as this one. But I am saying that these are all secondary, and that they have power to accomplish their purpose only as they are rooted in and lead back to a believing community.

[...] Insofar as [the church] is true to its calling, it becomes the place where men and women and children find that the gospel gives them the framework of understanding, the "lenses" through which they are able to understand and cope with the world.

(p. 227, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, p. 122, London: SPCK)

To read more by Schaeffer on this subject try his essay 'The Mark of a Christian'.

Hmm... how to practically encourage that love and unity in my relationships. Only by God's grace I suppose: his Holy Spirit.

Oh! on that subject, have you ever noticed this thought in Luke 11:10-13:

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but doesn't it seem interesting, and as a corollary challenging and encouraging, that Jesus seems to assume that the Holy Spirit is all we could ever desire and ask God for (that is good for us).

So... I suppose with regard to my practicallity question, the answer does not stop at 'God will sort it', but must include prayer.


At 2:03 pm, Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Remembering what you write about here is fundamental to discipleship. It's all in John 17:23. Thanks for the post. I linked to it at my blog this morning. Peace.

At 2:37 pm, Blogger Dave K said...


Glad you liked the post. John 17 is what Schaeffer is writing about when he talks about the final apologetic in the essay I link to.

Thanks for the link, and for stopping by.


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