Thursday, August 25, 2016


Whether such a word exists or not, it is a logical possibility from a Greek point of view. For example, we say évkolo, ‘easy’, and dýskolo, ‘difficult’. Since there is the evangélion, ‘good news’, there must be the dysangélion, ‘bad news.’ Logically, such a word can exist, but worse, the reality, or unreality, behind such a concept can also exist, and it does.

αρχη του ευαγγελιου ιησου χριστου υιου του θεου…
The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,
the Son of God…

Mark 1:1

This first verse of the gospel according to Mark has always been one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible. Every time I hear it, my spirit jumps like the unborn John the Baptist jumped in his mother’s womb when he heard the voice of the mother of his Lord greeting his mother. And whenever I read it, I think I feel what Walt Whitman must have felt as he describes in his poem,

BEGINNING my studies, the first step pleas'd me so much,
The mere fact, consciousness--these forms--the power of motion,
The least insect or animal--the senses--eyesight--love;
The first step, I say, aw'd me and pleas'd me so much,
I have hardly gone, and hardly wish'd to go, any farther,
But stop and loiter all the time, to sing it in extatic songs.

For Uncle Walt, the great Book of God (the World God made) startled and awed him as much as the little Book of God (the Word God speaks) startles and awes me, and stops me in my tracks, stops everything in me, brings ‘me’ to a complete halt, so I can take ‘Him’ in, who passes and speaks to me His name as He hides me ‘in the cleft of the Rock’ who is Jesus. He passes and speaks His name,

The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.
Exodus 34:6-7

Mercy, mercy, mercy is God’s response to us who chant unto Him, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy,’ but to men whose God is the world instead of whose world is God have another heritage, one that they have chosen for themselves, since they refused to let God choose for them their path, and let Him bring them to His land of promise. Instead, they wander, sometimes for generations, in circles in spiritual wasteland, afraid to follow the Word of their Lord into the abode of joy. They send out scouts to reconnoiter that land, and when they return, they believe only those who say, ‘the men that we saw there make us look like grasshoppers,’ and so ‘they refuse a land of delight’ and stay huddled together in small clutches of madness and anger like dwarves in a stable.

Among the Desert Fathers is a story where someone came to an abba and told him that so-and-so has abandoned the spiritual path and taken the road back to the world. The abba’s response is, ‘Don’t marvel that one has taken the road to the world, but that one has abandoned it.’

So it is, that one day, coming upon an article at a blog of a retired judge in upstate New York, I found the story of a fifth generation Baptist minister abandoning the spiritual life and taking the road back to the world. Actually, it is a fait accompli. He took that road back, and he’s even written a book about it, Towards The Light: A Fifth-Generation Baptist Minister’s Journey from Religion to Reason. It was reading about him and his book that put into my mind the neologism dysangelion, ‘bad news,’ for what else is this man peddling, but the bad news, and not ‘about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God,’ but about—himself? So what else is new? Without knowing it, in his own way he is following the same logic as that of many modern Christian authors, writing books that promote not Christ, but themselves.

Reading the short article online, one by one all the same, stale arguments against religion, attacking it in legitimate and illegitimate ways, crossed my mind, but of course nothing really against Christ Himself. What could this man, or anyone say? Jesus has not left the door open to him or to any man to be able to attack Him. He is Who He is. ‘Of all men You are the most handsome; Your lips are moist with grace, for God has blessed You forever’ (Psalm 45). As C.S. Lewis put it, speaking of Christ, He is either a madman, or the Son of God: there is no alternative.

So we live in a world where free will exists and in political systems, most of us, that allow freedom of thought and expression, and so what used to be ‘in the closet’ and just whispered behind our backs, can now be done and said openly, the ‘bad news’ has gone public among us, wreaking havoc and terror among the pious servants of God. Well, no, not exactly, but if people want to be like wanton prostitutes lifting their skirts and exposing their shame, then we let them. God is not mocked, and neither are we.

1 comment:

GretchenJoanna said...

All well said. I've been fascinated as never before, reading the Gospel of John, at how people responded to the Lord Jesus, and to the things that He said and did. For the most part it seems that they couldn't find sin in Him, so they more often said He was crazy ("had a demon"). I keep thinking that if people would only read this Gospel account, their eyes would be opened. But of course, it's not that simple. I have that perspective because my eyes have already been opened, and it's all grace.