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Original Question: Is it possible to give some brief description of Christian faith to non-believing listeners without exposing them to context requiring faith?

If yes, can you provide one? Any term requiring faith (like God, prayer, sermon) should be clarified in the answer using terms clear to non-believers (like love or selfishnes).

By brief I mean to be able to say it under 1 minute in normal speed speech.

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What are you asking? Are you asking for a description of Christianity that doesn't use words like 'God'? Or a description that doesn't require faith to assent to it? Or a description that allows them to understand it without necessarily becoming a believer? –  DJClayworth Jul 12 '12 at 21:19
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The first one. Not Christianity, but Christian faith. I try to avoid loop in the faith description. I hoped it was clear. Feel free to rephrase the question. –  user508 Jul 12 '12 at 22:27
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I like this question, and here's why: it is asking how to explain your faith without having to learn all the vocabulary of the faith. At heart, this is the most missions-minded question I've seen in a long time! Remember, always be prepared to have an answer for the hope that is within you! –  Affable Geek Jul 13 '12 at 13:01
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Technically words like god, prayer, sermon etc. can all be understood without faith, and are understood by most people, religious or not. –  DJClayworth Jul 13 '12 at 13:10

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

This was the original point of "The Four Spiritual Laws. In that scheme: 1. Sin separates us from God 2. We cannot pay for our sin 3. Jesus did pay for that sin by dying on the cross 4. If we trust him, he will take us to heaven.

Even that assessment, however, (substitutionary atonement at its best!) is a bit technical and theological Below is how I would relate the Gospel to a "newbie" (And note, I am not using them exactly as stated)

  1. You were created to be a good thing, but like all all of us, you haven't lived up to that full potential. None of us is good enough to be what it is that God (the Supreme Being and Creator of all that is) designed us to be. (Gen 1:27, ISA 53:6, Eph 2:10)

  2. Because we are not living up to what God would have us be, there is a penalty- an inability to be with God. Justice demands that as people who fall short of God's glory, we cannot stand in God's presence. (Because God is perfect, and we are not, how could we truly stand to be with someone totally holy? It's like when all those Nazis looked into the Ark of the Covenant and saw the angel of the Lord! We just aren't strong enough or pure enough to look upon absolute pure holiness. ) (Ex 34:2, Mal 3:2, Rom 3:23, rom 6 &7)

  3. Because of that gap, God realized that he had to make the first step- and here is that good news: that God so loved the world, that even though he was God, he chose to empty himself of being God, in order to find a way that he could both pay that for that penalty, and show us how to live with Him once he returned to his full God-like nature. (John 1, 3:16, Phil 2:5-12)

  4. If we are simply willing to completely trust Him, he is willing to make us fit to stand in his presence, blameless, with great joy! (Prov 3:5-6, Jude 24, 25)

  5. He will cause us to suffer, he will discipline us, and he will command us to do all sorts of things completely contrary to what our"common sense" will tell us to do- but if we completely trust him- if we take Him at his word, we will become his children- heirs in a legal sense. He talks to us through the Bible, through prayer, and by causing things to happen in our lives that force us to learn how to discern his will and lean on him for the strength to do what he would have us do. (Heb 12:1-6, James, Rom 8)

  6. The primary thing that God would have us be is loving. God is love. God desires what is best for us, even if it is not the thing that gives us the most pleasure. He trains us to do the same thing- to love others in the way that he loved us. (Heb 12:1-6, (1 John, 1 Cor 13)

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"show us how to live with Him" Good point. I never thought of incarnation from that angle, but it makes sense. He could hardly show humans how to be good humans without showing them a visual model of a good human. ;-) –  Monika Michael Jul 13 '12 at 11:27
    
I like your answer. Just not sure if the words you used were allowed or not, if he accepts it I will delete mine as a misunderstanding for ceratinbly this answer is good. :) –  Mike Jul 13 '12 at 14:02
    
@AffableGeek: Nice answer. Could you please just improve part 2? Maybe justice would be more suitable for the target group here. Would you please provide some relevant links to bible to support these statements? I'd like to redirect some people here if you don't mind. –  user508 Jul 13 '12 at 17:44
    
Will do, but not til later on tonight. Thanks :) –  Affable Geek Jul 13 '12 at 18:03
    
Point 1 seems to imply that God failed at creating "good things", like we're defective units coming off the assembly line. –  kurosch Jul 13 '12 at 18:34

I've noticed that all the views here appear to only present salvation as substitutionary atonement, which is one scriptural portrayal of salvation among many others (adoption, Christus Victor, recapitulation, theosis, etc.). There is nothing wrong with this portrayal, but it was never used in the same sense we have it today in the Church prior to the 11th century (thank you Anselm and Aquinas).

I think that the gospel presentation is somewhat contextual. Even our language is contextual ('Jesus' is a Greek rendering of 'Yeshua,' best transcribed into English as 'Joshua'). For some cultures and individuals, adoption may best help them connect with God's love for us in Christ, while in others Christus Victor may best help. None of these views are invalid by any means, we must simply remember that they are all attempts at explaining the miraculous and profound mystery of salvation.

I've found that without any context of the biblical narrative, simply presenting the 'Four Spiritual Laws' tends to create an individualistic message devoid of things like repentance, baptism, becoming part of His Body (the Church), becoming citizens of His kingdom, becoming disciples/apprentices of Jesus, the return of Christ, and the future hope of a bodily resurrection. The gospel challenges Western culture and shares how God's kingdom is breaking into this world, invading enemy territory. I don't really present the Gospel under a minute anymore, but I can give snapshots of it and point people to Jesus, mostly through parables. If we reflect, Jesus did the same. He didn't try to tell the whole story, He told parables to provoke thought and to challenge people, then He moved on. Those who wished to follow, did so (and even then He turned many away because they would not forsake all for the sake of the kingdom).

I think we do a disservice to our faith when we condense it into a short presentation. The gospel is all about becoming connected to a person, Jesus Christ, not just a historical event. Not to mention, the condensed gospel message has been used in America for quite some time now. We can see its fruit in American Christianity today: an individualistic faith (all I need is me and Jesus) where God came to help ME fulfill MY purpose. Not to die to myself and follow His purposes....

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This is a parable by Doublas Adams: By the time you've sorted out a complicated idea into little steps that even a stupid machine can deal with, you've learned something about it yourself. Parable explained: stupid machine = non-christians (no offense). Since I don't believe that God's message is incomprehensible, I ask for those little steps for the stupid machine: a snapshot of faith without loop in explanation. –  user508 Jul 15 '12 at 18:55
    
Yes and no. Indeed God gave us a message simple enough we could understand it, and yet complex enough that we will spend an eternity meditating on it. –  maj nem ɪz dæn Jul 15 '12 at 19:27
    
I hope so very much. But I fear that the truth is, that we just pretend the understanding even to ourselves, so we are self-confident and funny at the same time - like hip-hopers (no offense again). –  user508 Jul 15 '12 at 19:46
    
I don't believe I understand your last comment.... –  maj nem ɪz dæn Jul 15 '12 at 22:33
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FYI, Dan, if I could have selected an answer, it would have yours :) I haven't figured out for myself whether the "moment" of salvation is in the incarnation, the instruction, the crucifixion, or in his return. I like your notion that salvation is both personal and corporate, and a realization of what it is God made you for (I'd like to think I even picked up on that). I also totally agree that substitutionary atonement is a model, rather than the model of salvation. –  Affable Geek Jul 15 '12 at 22:56

Jan, you're on a wrong and very dangerous path. This is the road that leads to watering down the truth in order to cater to unbelievers. Can you show me one instance where Jesus or His apostles ever attempted to do what you're asking? Why don't you follow in the footsteps of the apostle Paul and not be ashamed of the gospel?

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes...

Notice how it says it is the power of God to everyone who..."believes." If people won't believe, they are condemned already (John 3:18). If they won't believe, we are to shake the dust off our feet and move on:

Matthew 10:14 Jesus said, "Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet."

If they won't believe then they are doomed. It is impossible to please God without faith. It is not our job to "get" them to believe...God does that. Our job is to be faithful in preaching the unadulterated truth.

Read Ezekiel 37. How do the dead bones live?

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Every single parable, every single analogy that Jesus told was an attempt to make God (and the Kingdom of God) accessible to those who had not considered the nature of who God was before. Indeed, Jesus' bile and contempt was reserved for those good men who sought to laden down seekers with rules, laws, and knowledge, rather than the ones who would "enter the Kingdom as a little child." –  Affable Geek Jul 13 '12 at 13:07
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It is certainly possible to present the 'unadulterated truth' without using Christian jargon. And it's better that we do that. Otherwise we are preaching to the converted. –  DJClayworth Jul 13 '12 at 17:13
    
Actually Paul encourages us to be critical: 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Critical people searching for Christ are open-hearted. Not to be open-hearted to them and hammer them with theological terms and not to be able to give them plain description of faith is what would make me truly ashamed. –  user508 Jul 13 '12 at 17:27
    
Affable, that's not true. Jesus said His parables were given to KEEP God's kingdom from those who didn't belong to Him. Matthew 13:10-11 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted." –  reformed Jul 14 '12 at 18:54
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DJ and Jan, this is not about Christian jargon. I agree that we shouldn't use such jargon before unbelievers. It's pointless and speaking into the air. And I'm not against being critical. We are certainly to exercise judgment in all things. It was my understanding that by "context requiring faith" you meant trying to explain Christianity purely from a scientific approach, and not from one requiring faith alone. If all you're talking about is context concerning jargon, then I agree. –  reformed Jul 14 '12 at 18:58

There is a Christian view presented by Solomon that thinks in terms without direct faith in God. I think when we remove words about faith in God we arrive at the sane destination:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

I guess what I am proposing is that it is not possible to answer your question because without describing and beleiveing in God as someone who sent His Son to die for the sins of the world, Christian faith is also meaningless.

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