In a recent issue of the New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell (of Tipping Point fame) writes a not-too-flattering review of Chris Anderson’ new book Free: The Future of a Radical Price, which is about the trend towards “freeness” in technological products and services and the psychological significance and impact of “free.”
One passage from the article (cited from the book) caught my eye:
“From the consumer’s perspective, there is a huge difference between cheap and free,” Anderson writes. “Give a product away, and it can go viral. Charge a single cent for it and you’re in an entirely different business. . . . The truth is that zero is one market and any other price is another.”
This quote is about the Gospel, and particularly about the Gospel as Mockingbird tries to present it. We believe that, in Jesus, God’s love, forgiveness and salvation are 100% free, full stop. Put another way, the Good News of Christianity is that the most valuable thing in the universe is also the most freely given.
The quote also sheds light on why Christianity, when rightly proclaimed, “goes viral”, and why any version of the faith which tells us that we must do something, anything, to earn God’s favor (no matter how small!) is not authentic Christianity. To paraphrase: zero is one faith and any other price is another.