I am starting a new segment on the blog for the next 8 weeks. I am going to be exploring how the Gospel can be lived out in various aspects of our life. First up is this idea of Gospel in the public square. Before we get started on this idea I want to give a clear statement of what I mean when I use the term Gospel. To do this I want to quote J.I. Packer from the “Introductory Essay to John Owen’s Death of Death in the Death of Christ”:
God saves sinners. God—the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of Father and Son by renewing. Saves—does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies. Sinners—men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot. God saves sinners.
I love this definition and how simple, yet how deep it is, the Gospel is that God saves sinners. How can it be said much better than that.
Now to dive into this concept of the Gospel in the public square I want to explain what I mean by the term public square. I am a student of history. You could even call me a history nerd if you wanted to and it would not offend me. For much of history there was this thing referred to as the public square. In Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome men would congregate there to debate philosophy and ideas. This practice continued through the middle ages and even into colonial America. In Colonial America and into the first half of the 20th century there were places in towns to go to find information or to speak with others about thoughts and ideas. We do not have this centers anymore. Now some towns may still have a town center that is nostalgic and full of history, but it no longer carries the same weight or the same influence.
So when I say the I want to see the Gospel in the Public Square I am not saying I want all of us to put on our suits and top hats and go to the center of the town and discuss ideas and infuse those ideas with the Gospel, although that would be pretty cool! What I am saying though is that I want to see the Gospel influences the powerful cultural defining centers of our day.
So what are those centers? What drives culture? What drives us? I think by and large it is media. It started with the radio, my dad says that before they had a TV, his family would sit around the radio and watch it as they listened to programs. The tubes would glow and burn and they would be captivated by the radio show. Then came TV and movies and now internet and Netflix and Redbox and social media.
So how do we get the Gospel in those places? I do not have all the answers. I just want to get the discussion rolling, and get us working towards driving the influence of the Gospel further and further outward into culture.