On first reading I was a bit wary of statements like these made by Hansen:
“People are seriously desperate for finding a deeper meaning, hope and inner peace. This world seems to have everything to offer, but in reality is more out of control morally and spiritually than ever. I can boldly say that this world needs the full gospel message of Jesus Christ. Not another sermon or conference about self happiness, but the pure full gospel of salvation. That is the one and only thing that can bring peace to the mind and restore the soul.”(my emphasis)
I could see too much of a similarity between THAT kind of gospel and the “gospel” of the “seeker sensitive” churches: “…that feel good gospel, a light lukewarm message that only talks about happiness, prosperity, self-development and “me, me and me” instead of “Him, Him and Him!” This seemed to maintain the focus upon human need, as if the gospel was offering a freedom from that need and providing some kind of fulfilment to humanity.
How easy it is to get caught up with religious attitudes until those attitudes cloud our minds to the truth!
Yes, there maybe some APPARENTLY common elements between the gospel Hansen promotes, (a gospel “that can bring peace to the mind and restore the soul”) and the gospel of the seeker sensitive church that he berates. Both gospels aim to provide something to mankind.
Many would see that aim as being too man-centred and not focused enough on God. And I confess that is the way I saw it at first, hence my initial reservations. But after a while I started to see things differently and I realised how much those reservations were baseless.
I have spent so much time refuting the errors of Calvinism and its God-maligning, man-belittling views that I had started to overlook the fact that God’s gospel is very much man-focused. Without man and man’s need for salvation there would be no need for a gospel. The gospel is God’s message of salvation to bring freedom to mankind. The gospel is God’s message of the benefits He has graciously provided for mankind.
At the start of His own ministry Jesus proclaimed:
Luke 4: 18-19 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news [the gospel] to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Dare we suggest that Jesus gospel was too man-centred because it focused on human need?
The gospel is God’s message offering salvation to mankind. And in case someone missed the point I’ll emphasis it: it is GOD’S gospel. It is about GOD sovereignly acting in love towards mankind.
How easy it is to become overly “pious” in our attempt to glorify God and we can effectively deny the very purpose of the gospel. The intention to glorify God has the opposite effect when His gracious love demonstrated towards mankind is pushed into the backseat (if not out of the rear window).
What is the most significant difference between the two gospels mentioned above?
It is not so much what benefits are available to mankind through the gospel, but what does the gospel require of mankind to enable the receiving of those benefits. Hansen’s message can perhaps be summarised in the following paragraph from his article:
“It is so easy for self-proclaimed prophets to make up weird crazy doctrines and get thousands of followers, because in many churches there is a great lack of Christian discipleship based on the word of God. The focus on Jesus and his teaching and
discipleship has been replaced with “feel-good teachings” that totally lacks the important teachings about repentance, sin, hell, grace and holiness.”
While the gospel IS directed towards mankind, offering mankind benefits we can’t fully understand; OUR RESPONSE to God’s gospel MUST be focused ON CHRIST, in accordance with the conditions HE has established.