In the last discussion, Slowcowboy questioned whether we can over-think the Gospel. It seems like those that struggle with understanding what Christians are trying to say overly complicate the questions and often seem to confuse themselves. I agree completely. However I find that the way most people explain the Gospel involves extremely complicated concepts and relationships of facts. This is especially true when they try to put the Gospel into a simple formula. Putting the Gospel into simple words is not the same thing as thinking in the simple way that opens up the mind and heart to the salvation that Jesus was talking about.
Some attempt to convey the Gospel by teaching children to sing and believe that “Yes, Jesus loves me!” But the phrase “Jesus loves me” is as indecipherable to most as the equation E=mc^2. I trust that the relationship between energy and mass that Einstein discovered is trustworthy, but I couldn’t coherently explain it to a trained physicist. Similarly I could not explain “Jesus loves me” in a way that would make the phrase coherent and relevant to many non-Christians (I still don’t think the phrase is coherent). My lack of a satisfying explanation does not make “E=mc^2” any less “true”. Likewise the fact that I cannot explain “Jesus loves me” in a coherent way doesn’t make the Gospel any less true. But if a person does not get a satisfying explanation the words will have no effect on the way they see the world.
My guess is that if I asked the average Christian what “Jesus loves me” means I would never be satisfied with the answers given because the words they would choose to describe what they meant are muddled and packed with assumptions that I cannot honestly make. This does not mean the words are not true, but just that they will always sound like irrelevant nonsense if they do not have a satisfying conceptual foundation.
Practically nobody has any idea what E = mc^2 actually means in relation to their experience. Only very few humans have ever really experienced the truth of the E = mc^2, even though it is universally recognized as the “truth”. This is probably why it took so long to discover it. I think the experience of redemption can be as elusive and difficult for some to grasp, this is probably why it took so long for humans to discover.
At some point in my life I understood “Jesus loves me” and “God loves me”, my guess is I understood them in much the same way that most Evangelicals and Mormons do. But experience, education, and reflection changed the way I think about things so much that these phrases became nonsensical. To make matters worse, I had lost touch with the actual experience of the “love of God”. It was all completely hidden. The Gospel or the Good News is the pattern of thought that wakes me up to the experience of the love of God in the way that Jesus was attempting. Before my conversion, I heard and understood the ramifications of the Good News, and I understood the complex symbology used to convey it. I understood E=mc^2, but did not see the light of salvation.
The good news for me was that salvation was more clearly and forcefully conveyed with something as simple as 1+1=2. I had to forget the complexities of E=mc^2 and think more simply (child-like) for the words of the Gospel to satisfy my mind and open up my eyes.