02 Dec #045 – Integriosity – RENEW—Keep First Things First—Kingdom—Bigger Gospel
ESSENCE: Many faith-driven leaders are operating out of a narrow and incomplete vision of God’s story–missing the beginning and end of a grand four-part narrative (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration). Because the purpose and relevance of work and business are found in Creation and Restoration, we do not believe a leader can lead an organization to faithfully “do right” without understanding and embracing a BIGGER GOSPEL of God’s Kingdom.
As explained in an earlier post, the key Biblical principles that form the foundation of Integriosity are embedded in the word itself–Integrity (and its components Righteousness and Kingdom) and Generosity (and its components Love and Humility). They are the priorities we need to “keep first”. The last five posts have been examining Righteousness, the first of the two “Integrity Priorities” embedded in Integriosity®. In this post we begin exploring the second “Integrity Priority” captured by Integriosity—Kingdom—by looking at a BIGGER GOSPEL than has often been proclaimed by those who look to the Bible as their source of faith and guidance.
A Bigger Gospel
If a leader or an organization is committed to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33), it is necessary to understand the Bible from a “Kingdom” perspective. At Integrous, we believe that many faith-driven leaders are operating out of a narrow and incomplete vision of God’s story. But it is not their fault. Many churches and religious leaders have presented (and continue to present) a Biblical message that truncates the narrative of the Bible. This difference is often referred to as a “Four-Part Gospel” (or a “Gospel of the Kingdom”) versus a “Two-Part Gospel” (or a “Gospel of Atonement”).
- Four-Part Gospel (“Gospel of the Kingdom”)
- When you think about the grand Biblical narrative, it can be divided into four key parts: (1) Creation; (2) Fall; (3) Redemption (through Jesus); and (4) Restoration (of God’s Kingdom on earth).
- A Four-Part Gospel is focused:
- On community as well as on the individual.
- On connecting the Great Commission (i.e., go and make disciples) and the Great Commandment (i.e., love God and love your neighbor) to the Creation Mandate (also called the Cultural Mandate) in Genesis 1:28 (we will explore the Creation Mandate more deeply in a future post):
- “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.“
- The Broader story of God’s love for the world and His eternal project of cultivation and restoration to which we are invited and commanded to participate.
- Two-Part Gospel (“Gospel of Atonement”)
- We believe many churches and religious leaders have emphasized the middle two parts of the Biblical narrative in presenting “the Gospel”: (2) Fall and (3) Redemption (through Jesus). At the risk of oversimplification, this is presented as some variation of “You are a sinner and Jesus came to save you.“
- A Two-Part Gospel is focused:
- More on the individual (and their salvation) than on the community.
- On the Great Commission and/or the Great Commandment.
- In his book The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard wrote: “History has brought us to the point where the Christian message is thought to be essentially concerned only with how to deal with sin: with wrongdoing or wrong-being and its effects. Life, our actual existence, is not included in what is now presented as the heart of the Christian message, or it is included only marginally.“
- Willard identifies two forms of what he calls a “Gospel of Sin Management” (and we are calling a “Two-Part Gospel”)
- A Gospel of the right (correct beliefs) which emphasizes Evangelism
- A Gospel of the left (correct actions) which emphasizes a Social Gospel of serving the less fortunate
History has brought us to the point where the Christian message is thought to be essentially concerned only with how to deal with sin: with wrongdoing or wrong-being and its effects. Life, our actual existence, is not included in what is now presented as the heart of the Christian message, or it is included only marginally. (Dallas Willard)
You may be asking “This is a very interesting theological observation (or not), but why is it relevant to faithfully “doing right” in an organization?” We believe it is not only relevant but essential for two key reasons:
- By ignoring Creation, a Two-Part Gospel does not tell you WHY you are here, HOW you were made, or WHAT work (and business) and relationships represent in God’s design. By ignoring God’s Restoration plan for His Kingdom on earth, a Two-Part Gospel does not tell you the whole story of WHY Jesus redeemed you, WHAT you are supposed to do after being redeemed and HOW work (and business) is relevant in God’s plan. If you don’t know where you came from or where you are going, it is hard to make sense of where you are and what you should be doing!
- A Two-Part Gospel of Evangelism and a Social Gospel are each “good”, but they are not enough to explain WHY work and business have intrinsic value in God’s Kingdom–they can get a leader over the Sunday/Monday Gap but are not enough to get a leader across the Sacred/Secular Gap:
- Evangelism: It is hard to see how work (or business) can be faithfully “doing right” unless it is explicitly evangelistic.
- Social Gospel: It is hard to see how work (or business) can be faithfully “doing right” unless it is “doing good” for the less fortunate.
In short, we do not believe a leader can lead an organization to faithfully “do right” without understanding and embracing a BIGGER GOSPEL. In fact, a narrow Two-Part Gospel is an example of the Placebo we call The “Save or Give” Pill, which can divert a leader down the Side Roads of Monetizing or Cosmeticizing.
SPOILER ALERT: In future posts, we will explore in more depth how the Creation (“Why We Are Here”) and Restoration (“Where We Are Going”) parts of God’s grand narrative are critical to crossing the “Sunday/Monday Gap” and the “Sacred/Secular Gap”.
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): I did not think or care about theology or the relevance of the Bible to my life until 2003 at the age of 42. Initially, the Gospel I learned about was an evangelical Two-Part Gospel. It was my friend Dr. John Seel who, several years later, introduced me to the idea of the Four-Part Gospel and the Creation Mandate after John’s close friend James Hunter launched his book To Change the World at the 2010 New Canaan Society national retreat. It was like a spotlight (not just a lightbulb) went off in my head. That spotlight only got brighter when I heard NT Wright speak at the New Canaan Society’s national retreat in 2013, bringing life to the implications for my life (and for work and business) of God’s plan of Restoration. Thank you John, James and Tom for how God used you to open my eyes to His BIGGER GOSPEL!