Which Good News?

Here in the UK there is a TV programme called “Russell Howard’s Good News”. Russell is a talented young comedian who has a sharp eye for hypocrisy and the plain weird. He is irreverent but very funny.

It occurred to me not long ago that actually the title of his show is quite shocking. “Good News” is what we call the gospel. I know I’m a bit slow on the uptake but I got it eventually. He has a section in the show which is not comic but is a good news story. The rest of the time he points out with comic effect the crazy things going on.

What is the good news? When I was a kid and I started to take my parents’ faith seriously, I started to witness at school. One kid who I had clearly annoyed said, “so what’s the good news you keep banging on about”? I said rather nervously, “if you believe, you’ll go to heaven when you die”. Now pretty much every 12 year old boy thinks he’s immortal this is not good news.

In 1974 there was a mission conference organised by the Billy Graham Organisation and Christianity Today. The agenda was pretty much organised in the US and the conference was going well until a group of young Majority World student workers accused the conference organisers of promoting a “culture Christianity” that promoted Western Values more than the gospel. That culture Christianity was individualist, future orientated and internally pietistic. Does the gospel take people to heaven or bring heaven to earth?