Tuesday, July 29, 2008

WSN Interview: Chip Scivicque (part one)

Our Bible teacher at the Global Briefing is Chip Scivicque.

Chip has been on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ for thirty-two years. He served for two years at “Ole Miss” before moving on to direct the ministry in Auburn for five years. He’s spent a total of twelve years living and doing ministry in Thailand. Then he worked to help send college students to do ministry internationally. Since the tsunami in Thailand he’s been asked by Campus Crusade to work on a new “Good News, Good Deeds” focus, helping the US campus ministry to turn our attention toward living the gospel, not just talk about it. He jokingly refers to himself as the “Good News, Good Deeds Guru.”

WSN: As if world evangelization wasn’t enough, now Crusade wants to be a humanitarian organization?

CHIP: We don’t want to become a humanitarian aid organization, but continue to be who we are. Students are our target and the proclamation of the gospel is our lead foot, but--and here is the operative phrase--we want to weave the compassionate works and words of the gospel into the fabric of the campus ministry.

WSN: This sounds like a pretty major paradigm shift.

CHIP: Well, yeah, it is a major paradigm shift and I think it’s a lot bigger than Crusade. All of Evangelicalism was born in the 50s (pretty much). Theological liberalism had really swept the Protestant church and the great majority of Protestant Christians rejected the miraculous and the supernatural and removed that from scripture. Their approach to scripture was, “If I can’t prove it scientifically, then it must not be true.” So they rejected the virgin birth and the miracles of Christ and the bodily resurrection and a literal second coming and Christ became a good teacher rather than a savior and a redeemer and the Son of the Living God. When they did that the gospel message really had no power to redeem and to save mankind. They were left with the teacher’s advice to love your enemy, turn the other cheek, feed the hungry, take care of widows and orphans and in their minds, evangelism and missions became mercy ministry. Evangelicalism was born, and one of the things at the heart of it was belief in the inerrancy of scripture, that it’s the inspired word of God.

So Evangelicalism was born in this sea of theological Liberalism where there was almost nothing but mercy ministry with no gospel proclamation. We said, “Wow. If you feed someone or build a home for them or make their life better or heal them of their sickness and then they die and go to hell, what good did you do them?” A false dichotomy was created, that there’s either mercy ministry with no proclamation or proclamation with no compassion demonstrated toward human need. So the shift that’s going on is huge. Evangelicals and Campus Crusade are realizing that it doesn’t have to be either/or, it should be both/and. So all Evangelicals, including Crusade, are trying to bring proclamation of the message into the context of demonstration, trying to share both the words and the works of the gospel.

WSN: So how do you answer the critics who say, “What does it matter if we mow people’s lawns and they still go to hell”?

CHIP: One, you need to realize that the gospel is not just a verbal message. The gospel is a person. It’s Jesus. And the good news about him encompassed everything about who he is or was when he was on earth and everything that he did and taught. It wasn’t just propositional truth. So as we share the gospel with people, we need to share it through who we are, and how we live, and what we say. The gospel was never just a verbal message.

Second, usually for people to understand the gospel they have to both hear it explained and see it lived out. The further a person is in their worldview from the Biblical worldview, the more true that is. I learned that in Thailand. You take someone who has a very eastern worldview--like a Buddhist worldview, or Taoist or Confucianism-- they have to see the gospel both lived out and explained verbally or it just doesn’t compute. You have to put “the mowing of the lawn” and the proclaiming of the message together.

Another realization a person like that needs to make is that we are not here to just get people into heaven. We’re here to get heaven onto earth. That’s what Jesus taught us to do. He taught us to pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God wants his will done on earth as it is in heaven and Jesus taught us to pray and work in that direction. And so we are to try to expand and expend the loving way of Jesus Christ on earth in every way possible and every place possible so that heaven breaks into earth and people get a taste of it and they want to go there. That’s what we’re here to do. They hunger for heaven and the king of heaven and want to know him and spend eternity with him.

Look for part two of the interview tomorrow!

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