Making the Gospel Seeker Sensitive

There have been volumes written against making the gospel more palatable for those who are “seekers”, whatever that means, and contextualizing the gospel, for which there are many definitions.

I think it can be narrowed down to this:

1 Corinthians 1:18 NASB
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

I would gather that seeker-sensitive preachers and evangelists don’t want to make the the gospel sound like foolishness. But if we make it more palatable and use logic and worldly wisdom so that people will accept it on an intellectual level without truly believing, they are putting some of them on rocky soil right from the start. Is that what we want to do to people?

2 Peter 2:21 NRSV
For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment that was passed on to them.

Jesus and Paul didn’t make it easy enter the kingdom. (Matt 7:13-14, Matt 19:21-22)

Regarding the cross as foolishness, here are some quotes from commentators:

Longenecker, Galatians:

Today, after almost two millennia of the cross as a sacred symbol, it is difficult for Christians to appreciate the repugnance and horror with which the cross was viewed among both Jews and Gentiles in the first century. The only things comparable in our day would be venerating an electric chair or wearing a hangman’s noose around our necks as a symbol of our religious devotion. Indeed, as Paul says in 1 Cor 1:23, the proclamation of ‘Christ crucified’ was ‘a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.’

Garland, 1 Corinthians:

He [Paul] does not say that he preached the resurrected Christ, but the crucified Christ. Crucifixion and resurrection belong together as part of the gospel story (1 Cor 15:3-5), but the cross was repugnant to ancient sensibilities and assailed the world’s self-centeredness and self-destructive ways. It was not yet the ‘old rugged cross’ sentimentalized in hymns, embalmed in stained-glass windows, perched on marble altars, or fashioned into gold charms.

Christianity was cradled in what looks like disastrous defeat, and the unspeakable stigma of the cross exposed the preacher of this message to woeful contempt. Paul, however, did not refer to Jesus’ death with embarrassment or skip over the awkward facts.

…the message of the cross is an antidote to human self-glorification.

Paul left…yielding, to the persuasion of the Spirit.

4 Responses to “Making the Gospel Seeker Sensitive”


  1. 1 TC

    I am all for preaching the cross and all the offensives that come with doing such.

    I think seeker-sensitive preachers and the like believe that somehow they are responsible for getting the lost in.

    But I am reminded of 1 Cor 3:5, 6.

  2. 2 Scripture Zealot

    True and that also reminds me of Philippians 1:8.

    I just think that for the people who write a lot about being against seeker-sensitive type stuff, it could be narrowed down.
    Jeff

  3. 3 Nathan Stitt

    Just yesterday my mind was wondering (never happens!) and I was thinking how the electric chair or an old fashioned hanging would be some modern, more gruesome way of dying. I was trying to think how that fit into the context of the crucifixion in the first century. Those first two quotes were really helpful.

    As for seeker sensitive I am a bit disillusioned with that whole philosophy. My current stance is that unless the church also teaches ‘meat’ after they provide the milk, there is almost no point.
    (all opinions subject to change at a moment’s notice)

  4. 4 Scripture Zealot

    I agree.

    My mind probably wanders as much as wonders.

    I meant to say Philippians 1:18 not 1:8 in my previous comment and I’m still wondering about that as related to seeker-sensitive stuff.
    Jeff

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