“Gospel amnesia flourishes in a local church where there is a disconnect between doctrine and culture. An obvious case would be a church where there is no gospel preaching. Another would be a church that is obligation-heavy and gospel-light. Yet another is where there is a fair amount of gospel doctrine with little or no gospel action.
“Ray Ortlund Jr. asks in his sermon Justification versus Self–Justification, “what kind of dark church culture can a mentality of self-justification (gospel amnesia) create?” (I am substituting ‘gospel amnesia’ knowing that the gospel is more than just the doctrine of justification.) Here are some of his answers: Selfish ambition, manipulative power of exclusion, a sense of grievance toward some, a redefining of what it takes to be an acceptable Christian (a “Jesus + Something” mentality), biting, devouring, insecurity, anxiety, fear and anger. I would add suspicion, warring over secondary matters, verbal or non-verbal pressure to adhere to unstated rules, a culture of affectation, preoccupation with outward behavior, and a lack of humility and transparency. A church rife with gospel amnesia can trumpet all day long that they hold to the gospel, but if the fruit of church culture shows otherwise, they have effectively de-gospeled the gospel. (My deep gratitude to Pastor Ray Ortlund Jr. whose sermon helped me to crystalize some of these thoughts. His phrase “de-gospel the gospel” had me taking notes feverishly while driving and listening.)
“When members of a church are blinded by gospel amnesia, dealing with sin in the congregation is hampered by a lack of grace and a gospel-centered rebuke and restoration process. How can a people tackle difficulties in their relationships and in their body life when they have forgotten the gospel, Jesus has been marginalized, and the center has become many things, none of which is the gospel and cross work of Christ!?
“What has become the center of your life in your local church?”
Such good and challenging truth. Read more and get the ebook here.