I never know how I feel about gospel tracts. Actually, most gospel tracts are just fine, but it’s the use of them I find to be appalling at times.
There have been times when I have flat out refused to use gospel tracts but I’m now discovering that I like to have some on hand in case I have a gospel discussion with someone and want to leave him something to reflect on later.
The problem I have with gospel tracts is that many are poorly made, have poor theology, and are handed out like it’s no different from a We Buy Gold! flyer. We cheapen the gospel when we sink to tactics like dropping a “million dollar bill” tract on the ground hoping that someone will pick it up. Or, another tactic I’ve heard is after you use a public restroom, leave a gospel tract in the toilet paper roll for the next person to discover.
Nothing conveys the incomparable value of Jesus’ sacrifice and glorious resurrection quite like discovering a cheap, unhygienic gospel tract just before you flush.
If your personal evangelism strategy includes dropping gospel tracts on the ground or hiding them in a roll of toilet paper you might need to rethink the gospel.
The Son of God became the Son of Man that the sons of men might become the sons of God.
The War on the War on Christmas started early this year. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but a vocal minority of Christians have already begun to fight.
The so-called War on Christmas began a few years back when nativity scenes started being removed from public spaces and when the greeting “Merry Christmas” began to slip from civil and corporate parlance.
Some Christians began to take offense and someone labeled this cultural phenomenon a War on Christmas.
Let’s just get one thing straight: There is no War on Christmas.
Instead, there are millions of Not Christians who want to celebrate Not Christmas. Is that so hard to understand?
Are non-Christians required to celebrate Christmas in America? No.
Are Christians required to celebrate non-Christmas holidays in America? No?
So, what’s the problem?
What if Mark’s Gospel had been written as a series of blog posts? Here’s what he might have to say about Jesus based on Mark chapter one verse one.
The Beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. – Mark 1:1
Everyone needs to know Jesus.
Why? Here are 3 reasons that come to mind:
1. Jesus is King
The word “gospel” means “good news”.
But not everyday good news. Like, “Gospel! My indigestion seems to be clearing up!”
More like, “Gospel! A king has been born.” Or, “Have you heard the gospel? Our king conquered the enemy army!”
How do you find a good Bible translation? Well, it depends on what language you speak. If you speak English, I can recommend the Holman Christian Standard Bible. It’s my choice of the modern translations because it is accurate, it is readable, and it is not as theologically biased as some translations tend to be.
If you aren’t satisfied with my recommendation then I will happily point you to Mark Strauss and Gordon Fee’s book entitled, How to Choose a Translation For All Its Worth.
The problem of choosing a translation in English is a minor problem. If you grab an NIV or an HCSB or an ESV or even the older KJV you will be reading the Truth (just don’t fall into the trap thinking that The Message is a translation!). There are nuances where a word choice could have been more precise or might have captured the original meaning more clearly, but it’s a minor problem that is solved by careful exegesis of the text.
There are bigger problems to worry about.
Bible Translations Needed
What if you don’t speak English? Well, there are Bible translations in 4,516 languages. There are even some languages that also have numerous versions to select from, though I don’t know if it is to the extent of the selection in the English language.
Recently, a group of former Southern Baptist Convention presidents, seminary professors and pastors released a statement on SBC Today called A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation. The Statement seems to be a genuine attempt to clarify a theological position on soteriology that is against Calvinism. However, unintentional or not, I think it does more harm than good.
According to Jerry Vines, a long time SBC pastor and evangelist and one of the statements signatories, there is no agenda to rid the SBC of Calvinists. He says, “I have no desire to run all Calvinists out of the SBC; I think it would be divisive and wrong. But, current attempts to move the SBC to a Calvinistic soteriology are divisive and wrong. As long as groups and individuals seek to force Calvinism upon others in the Convention, there will be problems.”
Ironically, I think this new Statement is also divisive and wrong. It is neither the traditional view nor is it Southern Baptist. Though perhaps unintentional, this Statement only serves to drive a wedge between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. Not even the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 (which I would argue is the traditional Southern Baptist Understanding) does that. I deeply respect Jerry Vines but you don’t lock arms with your brother to pursue the Great Commission together by telling him his views are not welcome or that they are divisive and wrong.