In my previous post I talked about an objection to Tim Keller's presentation on The Reason For God at Google, namely that he didn't present the gospel. I enumerated the arguments of Keller's defenders, but I want to return to the main reason behind the charge against Keller.
The objector(s) essentially argued:
reasoning with foolish man is futile
only the gospel is powerful to save (e.g. Romans 1:16, 10:17)
therefore Keller should have stopped wading through intellectual arguments and presented the gospel
This is a straight-forward and powerful argument. The argument is made even more powerful for those like me who believe in total depravity (i.e. that we are all dead in our sins and can't understand the things of God until the Spirit regenerates us).
How one deals with this objection will depend on how one defines the gospel.
If the gospel is a concise message (e.g. "Jesus is Lord") with implications for all of life then that message can be expressed in countless ways in both word and deed through our lives. Consider Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 11:26. He says that observing the Eucharist actually proclaims Christ's death. Could our lives not also proclaim the gospel in a similar way? Could we "present" the gospel to an unbelieving friend by laying down our life for them? Clearly, the gospel needs to be articulated in speech. I do not mean to deny that.
However, if the gospel can only be articulated directly from Scripture then anything less would be meaningless in regard to evangelism. Or if the gospel is a technical, theological statement then expressing that in action or through simple explanation will be difficult.
Here are my questions about the nature of the gospel. How you define it will determine your answers:
If only the gospel is powerful to save sinners then why do we do anything except proclaim it?
Does total depravity invalidate any attempt to build a logical buttress for faith as a means to eventually introduce the gospel? Why?