A Christian life is to be a life like no other. Because of this we must understand the gospel truth requires telling the whole story. In doing this we are to stop thinking like immature children.

Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians should be thought-provoking. He insisted we be as grown-ups when it comes to the teaching of Jesus Christ: mature, complete, in one’s thoughts and actions.

This is not the case in a recent advertisement in the East Oregonian of March 28, 2019: “Should you be sent to Hell, how would you plead?” The term Hell/Gehenna/Hades/Sheol is a highly subjective abstract term.

Without a rigorous present-day theological study, the Apostle Paul said one mustmove from the milk to the meat; one is left vulnerable to distorted, lopsided, teaching as found in this advertisement. One should ask when faced with something of this nature, “What sort of concept is in this advertisement, and can it be justified?” The advertisement amounts to one of unthinking Christian fundamentalism.

For Paul, if we are to understand the beauty of the gospel, the cross and resurrection belong together (1 Cor. 15 14). Christ has united us with himself. The risen Christ is present with us by his Spirit, empowering and reshaping our lives as we allow. Jesus said, ‘“Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” This being a joint operation, a covenantal relationship.

The King and his kingdom are here, now! If our understanding of the good news is restricted solely to removing our sin, then we risk reducing Jesus to mere formula and a method for countering sin. It then follows, we are to believe once saved always saved.

The gospel is much more complex than this. The gospel possesses so much detail it challenges comprehension. The gospel, proclaimed in a Christ-centered Christianity, moves us from simply avoiding sin, and the Christian fundamentalist literal fear of hell, to actually loving God and our neighbor as Jesus loves our neighbor. Now there’s a challenge!

A Christian life is to be a life like no other. We are to grow in wisdom as we weave together theological insight. In this one moves from the fear mongers’ hell.

Ron Gavette


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