The Modern Marketing of the Gospel -- By: David W. Hegg

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 05:1 (Winter 1996)
Article: The Modern Marketing of the Gospel
Author: David W. Hegg


The Modern Marketing of the Gospel

David W. Hegg

Sometime ago my own evangelical denomination reprinted a chapter from the book, What Would Jesus Say? (Zondervan, 1994), authored by Lee Strobel, a teaching pastor of the well-known Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Illinois. This book offers several chapters dealing with the question “What Would Jesus Say?” to modern personalities such as O. J. Simpson, Rush Limbaugh, Billy Graham, and Madonna. Strobel’s chapter on Madonna was excerpted for the material that my denomination used for evangelistic outreach. After reading the material I concluded that more than the method of evangelism was being changed by this approach. I wrote to the editor of the publication expressing my concerns, and the material presented herein is the content of my letter.

It is important to begin by stressing that the content of the Gospel is essential to the work of evangelism itself. If we tamper with the content of our message then we risk invoking the disapproval of Christ Himself. Further, we may very well mislead “little ones,” causing them to stumble over the message of our Lord.

Strobel’s presentation of the message of salvation is not the biblical Gospel in that it humanizes God improperly, exalts man unduly, and minimizes sin significantly. He fundamentally misrepresents the nature of man, the nature of sin, the person of Christ, and the nature of Salvation. Since each of these falls within the circle of what is historically orthodox, they are not negotiable areas of unimportance.

What I wish to do is to point out the errors of this particular presentation. I do this because I am deeply concerned that a host of otherwise good evangelical people are falling into some serious traps in their preoccupation with marketing the message of the Gospel to modern listeners.

Each of the points quoted below in italics are taken directly from Strobel’s book. These are his essential points, and thus I will state them and respond to each.

1) I believe that Madonna—at least, to some degree, in her own way—is seeking God.

Romans 3:10–11 states that no one seeks God. And while some New Testament passages (e.g., Matt. 7:7; Luke 11:9) exhort men and women to seek God, two things are clear: (1) Those truly seeking God do so because the Spirit is working in their hearts (John 14:6; cf. John 6:37, You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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