Monday, November 26, 2007

Piper, the Prosperity Gospel, suffering and evangelism

Well, John Piper really really really doesn't like the prosperity "gospel"...

Shocking stuff. But it reopened the bit of my mind that had been mulling on the context of 1 Peter 3:15-16 for a while.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience
1 Peter 3:15-16, NIV

They're so often trotted out as the standard verses for evangelism, and so often we ask why evangelism in the West is so much harder than evangelism elsewhere, and we completely ignore the context of those verses.

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
1 Peter 3:14-18, NIV

The opportunities for real evangelism that are talked about in 1 Peter 3 are the opportunities that come from the way that we suffer for doing what is right. And by and large, the church in the West is not willing to suffer for doing what is right. And so we don't get the people asking us for the reason for the hope that we have in the same way. And so evangelism is so much harder.

I've only led two people who weren't already Christians to Christ. In one case, someone close to me was regularly attempting suicide. In the other, my gran had just died. Evangelism works through suffering.

(more stuff on why the Prosperity Gospel is wrong here)

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