11 December 2007

Gospel Lite

Tastes Great; Less Filling
by Phil Johnson

The defining principle of historic evangelicalism was an unwavering devotion to the gospel. But the broad movement that calls itself "evangelical" today no longer stands for any clear point of view and can't seem to find consensus on even the most basic of gospel truths. How did that happen?


I wrote the following article for GraceTrax Magazine, a publication of Riverbend Church, Ormond Beach, FL (where Roy Hargrave is Pastor). The article covers a lot of ground that will be familiar to longtime PyroManiacs readers, but since it also intersects with the discussions in several of our most active recent comment-threads—and I'm technically on vacation this week—I decided to post it in full, rather than write something specially for the blog.

For info on subscriptions to GraceTrax, click here.

he word evangelical used to be a good one. The term dates back at least to William Tyndale, and it refers to the belief that the gospel message—the evangel—is the vital heart of all Christian truth. To a real evangelical, everything that is of primary importance in Christianity is embodied and summarized in the gospel, and any belief system based on an aberrant gospel is not authentically Christian.

Evangelicals' passion for keeping the gospel at the center explains why historic evangelicalism has always been theologically conservative, biblically based, warm-heartedly evangelistic, and dynamically experiential.



But the contemporary evangelical movement has become something completely different. Evangelicals can't even seem to agree among themselves anymore about what the gospel is or whether the factual and doctrinal details of our message are really even all that important.

It is remarkable that almost every trend in the evangelical movement today attempts to redefine the very points of gospel truth earlier evangelicals had universally deemed essential. That's true of the New Perspective on Paul, for instance, which proposes a wholesale reinterpretation of what Paul meant by "justification." It's true of Open Theism, which redefines God Himself (denying His sovereignty and His foreknowledge) and then relentlessly shaves the hard edges off every doctrine thought to make Him seem "too harsh"—starting with substitutionary atonement. It's especially true of postmodern and Emergent approaches to Christianity, where almost anything goes and every truth of Scripture, including the gospel, is reimagined daily.

Yet postmodernism, Open Theism, and the New Perspective (along with several other ideas and movements that aren't really evangelical at all in the historic sense) have managed to make themselves at home under the broad tent of the contemporary evangelical "movement."

How did it come to this?

For the past fifty years or so, people calling themselves "evangelical" have been systematically watering down the gospel; filtering out the hard parts; and trying every way they can think of to tone down the offense of the cross. They have been serving up "gospel lite"—a pale imitation of the true gospel, specially distilled to taste good and go down easy. As more and more "refinements" have been made to the recipe, few people in the movement seem to be asking whether the message we're now collectively proclaiming to the world even has enough gospel left in it to be considered authentically evangelical. (It's my conviction that the correct answer to that question is no.)

The problem can be traced, I think, to a craving for academic respectability and worldly admiration. In the middle of the 20th century, several leading evangelicals proposed a whole new kind of evangelicalism—less militant, more tolerant, and (above all) shrewd and market-savvy about public relations. They seemed to operate on the assumption that the way to win the world is by making the evangelical movement and its message as appealing as possible to worldly people. In other words, let's "sell" Christianity the way Budweiser sells beer.

Why not? If they like us, surely they'll like Jesus, too.



The early compromises were subtle—just a shading of the message here and there to make it sound more positive and winsome. Instead of starting with sin, the way Romans 1 does, evangelicals decided that God's love made a more harmonious opening note for our gospel presentation: "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life."

By the 1970s evangelical preachers seemed to have little to say about sin and human depravity. And the wrath of God was hardly mentioned even in a whisper. The problem of sin was never actually denied, mind you—it was merely shifted more and more into the background. The gospel's call to repentance was dropped in favor of urging people to seek "a personal relationship with God."

Soon evangelicals weren't mentioning sin at all anymore. It was as if they suddenly forgot that the human dilemma is all about eternal and spiritual matters. Instead, by the mid 1980s, the issues that dominated evangelical pulpits were temporal and psychological: low self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, a sense of purpose in life, a feeling of belonging, and (of course) how to be happy, healthy, wealthy, and successful. The gospel was presented as the answer to all those questions, and little else.

By the 1990s, some evangelicals were making scarcely any reference to the gospel at all. They were so bent on winning the world's admiration that their "outreach" strategy was reduced to trivial attempts to put some kind of spiritual-sounding spin on virtually every kind of worldly entertainment. And if they couldn't make something sound spiritual, they would sometimes do it anyway—just to entertain.

During the heyday of the seeker-sensitive movement in the early 90s, someone showed me a video featuring one megachurch's idea of how evangelism ought to be done. It was a 90-minute variety show, featuring comedy, drama, and dancing. Not one mention was made of the gospel and not one verse of Scripture was ever cited during the entire parade of acts. It was sheer entertainment. But then at the very end, an "invitation" was given, encouraging those who wanted their lives to be more meaningful to "accept Christ." Nothing in the entire presentation had given viewers any clue about who Christ is, what He did, why we need Him, or what it means to believe in Him. In other words, the gospel was totally missing.

I remember thinking even then that the quest for milder-than-ever flavors of Gospel Lite had already destroyed the evangelical movement.

Now, after several years of that kind of gospel-deficient ministry, multitudes of people who think of themselves as evangelical believers are suffering from severe spiritual malnutrition. And without any clear concept of the gospel to guide them, they are gullible, naïve, and susceptible to whatever false doctrine or spiritual ambiguity happens to be currently in vogue.

There's no denying that the evangelical movement has utterly lost its way. If that fact weren't already sufficiently clear, the point has now been punctuated emphatically—twice in the past year—with the resignations of top leaders from the movement's two most important umbrella organizations.

First it was the president of America's flagship evangelical society, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Exposed in a sordid scandal involving repeated instances of infidelity, homosexuality, and drug trafficking, he admitted that he was a "deceiver and liar"—and that he had been so "for all of my adult life."

Fewer than six months after that story broke, it was revealed that the president of the movement's largest and most important academic fraternity, the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), had quietly converted to Roman Catholicism. He eventually resigned from ETS—even though (judging from various evangelical op-ed pieces and discussions on the Internet) he might well have been able to hang onto his post as ETS president if he had so desired. Majority opinion within the organization appeared to be in favor of keeping him in office. It seemed as if no one could think of any fundamental difference remaining between evangelicals and Roman Catholics.

When the NAE president disqualified himself, evangelicalism's house organ, Christianity Today, was having its 50th anniversary celebration. The magazine had marked the half-century mark by sponsoring a series of articles about the future of evangelicalism. In the first of those articles, CT's editors more or less admitted they aren't sure what a correct definition of evangelicalism would be nowadays. But their working description of the movement began with the observation that evangelicals are now amazingly broad, diverse, and ecumenical. Those, of course, used to be the primary badges of liberal Christianity.

When the leaders of evangelicalism's two most important organizations both default within six months' time—one because of moral failure, the other because of doctrinal defection, we might conclude that the demise of the contemporary evangelical movement stems from a failure of leadership.

I think it would be a mistake to conclude that the blame for evangelicalism's demise lies merely (or even primarily) with the style or character of the movement's current or recent leaders. It's actually a much bigger and more widespread problem than that. The real root of evangelicalism's problems goes back to the whole movement's blithe and chronic neglect of the gospel as it is presented in Scripture—starting several decades ago. All those attempts to tone down and tame the gospel have changed the fundamental character of evangelicalism's message. By systematically doing away with all the hard parts of the message, evangelicals have essentially done away with the gospel itself.

It is not now and never has been a valid goal to make our gospel message more winsome, more politically correct, more sophisticated-sounding, or simpler than it already is. Since Scripture recognizes and makes no apology for the fact that the message of the cross is itself a stumbling block and mere foolishness to unbelievers (1 Corinthians 1:23-25), Christians who are determined to devise a smart-sounding or inoffensive message are not being faithful ambassadors for Christ. He has commanded what our message should be. Our only duty is to deliver it without altering the sense of it.

Evangelicals for the past half-century have done a miserably poor job at that task, and it's time to take our calling more seriously.

Phil's signature

84 comments:

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Well said. Hear! Hear!

art said...

How did it come to this?
For the past fifty years or so, people calling themselves "evangelical" have been systematically watering down the gospel; filtering out the hard parts; and trying every way they can think of to tone down the offense of the cross.


If Mr. Hargrave is making reference to N. T. Wright in his mention of the New Perspective on Paul, then I fail to see how N. T. Wright has done any of this. In fact, he has done the exact opposite by building up the Gospel within its original context both in his work on Jesus and Paul. Wright refuses to filter out any part of the NT, especially the cross.

Puritan said...

Great article from Roy Hargrave. GraceWorx is a great site.

A large problem with this seeker friendly lite gospel is that it fills the church up with false converts, and then the church has to offer goat food to keep them in and steer clear of teaching any subject like the Doctrines of Grace, Hell, and the attributes of God. And the next thing you have is false converts serving in the church and in the pulpit.

I was speaking to so someone who professed to be a Christian the other day who was recommending a stand up comedy by a guy called Rick Gervais, which is not only full of bad language, sexual innuendos, but a large part of it is spent mocking and ridiculing God and the Creation story. When I asked him if he'd recommend a video if it talked about his wife or mother in such a profane way, he replied he wouldn't have a problem if someone talked about his mother/wife like that.

But this is the result of the watered down gospel, you end up with many in the church who are clearly not saved, as Jesus said by their fruit you shall know them. Rejection of Lordship salvation. And then the Name of God is blasphemed because so many are professing to be Christians yet, behaving like hypocrites.

centuri0n said...

[1] GREAT update to your graphic signature. Long. Time. Coming.

[2] You usually post more whilst on vacation because you have free time. Take more vacations.

[3] I -FINALLY- got top billing at Caesar's. You have no idea how much it has irked me over the years that I was always on the second line ...

[4] Roy Hargrave is a Pyro and he doesn't even know it. He's even got great hair like Phil does ...

Johnny Dialectic said...

Isn't Phil the author of this article? His byline is up there, and I didn't see a reference to Mr. Hargrave as author.

Anyway, it seems the "evangel" is pulled in two directions, as evidenced from 20th Century history.

One way is toward separation, as when fundamentalism became a "movement." The other is toward accomodation, as this article suggests, the prime exhibit being what happened at Fuller.

Other than requiring that everyone read Pyromaniacs, how can the essentials be held?

Perhaps only through faithful churches. Any other suggestions?

DJP said...

All — I think Phil wrote the article, for Roy's periodical.

Art — Really? NT Wright teaches that the Gospel is about how to be saved from sin's guilt and power, and that justification is forensic imputation of Christ's righteousness, by grace alone through faith alone, to individual repentant sinners? That's wonderful news!

Could you document that, please? So many people have the wrong impression, according to you.

stratagem said...

How did we come to this?

This is my periodic reminder to all interested parties, that we didn't reason our way to where we are. That is especially true of the lunatic fringe of McLarens, Pagitts, and Bells.

We of the Biblical persuasion tend to marvel at how anyone could be persuaded by the aforementioned camp of Emerg***s. When I am marveling at this, I need to be periodically reminded that people aren't persuaded by their reason; they are persuaded by direct deception of lying spirits. For example, in the extreme manifestation of this (Emerg***), the practice of mantra meditation done with a Christian veneer is the vehicle of choice.

I haven't known anyone who has embraced Emerg*** beliefs, except through this type of meditation. I don't know anyone who practices this type of meditation who hasn't eventually ended up agreeing with Emerg*** beliefs.

We keep looking for a rational antidote to Emerg*** and other spurious forms of Evangel***. There is none. There is only battle in prayer, in the heavenly realm, while we at the same time present the truth (as the Pyros do here). "We struggle not against flesh and blood." Keep praying for restoration.

SeanS said...

Isn't it time for us to look even further into where these ideas originate? Has anyone examined what they might be teaching at the some of the theological seminaries about evangelism?

SolaMeanie said...

Super article.

Secondly, an observation. A few days ago, Phil makes a five-dollar bet. Today, he posts a photo of Caesar's Palace with the TeamPyro on the marquee.

Hmmmm. I know what will happen next. The new TeamPyro theme song will be . . .

"Know when to hold 'em
know when to fold 'em.
Know when to walk away
and know when to run.
You never count your money
when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin'
when the dealin's done."

Snicker, giggle, tee-hee

Daryl said...

Wonderful article. Hits all the nails on all their heads.

Kevin said...

The real root of evangelicalism's problems goes back to the whole movement's blithe and chronic neglect of the gospel as it is presented in Scripture—starting several decades ago.


I don't think we can put all the blame on today's emergent movement. The watering down of the gospel has been going on for decades according to the article. It needs to be taught in schools and churches verse by verse revealing TRUTH, exposing SIN, preaching REPENTANCE and TRUSTING/BELIEVING in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior!

It is a free gift. What a glorious gift, what a glorious Savior.

Daryl said...

"It needs to be taught in schools"

I don't want to start some crazy off topic thread, but this can't be right unless you're talking Christian Schools.

Kevin said...

Daryl,

Yes I meant Christian Schools, specifically seminaries. I don't know how old you are, but we did used to have bibles and prayer in public schools (K-12). Why can't it be right?

Preson said...

I've been saying we should stop calling ourselves evangelicals for a long time now. I'm glad we all agree ;)

Daryl said...

Kevin,

I'd say that the gospel is not to be forced, nor is it to be taught by non-believers.
I do remember prayer and Bible reading in school, but I think the question of how that is fair to other religions is a legitimate one. The public square is not the same as the church.

All that aside, I do agree that those who have been entrusted with the gospel have done a bad job of preserving it. We need to do better.

Tyler said...

I love it. I just finished listening to Carson's lecture "What is the Gospel?" last night, it was also great stuff - here's the link, if anyone is interested.

Kevin said...

Daryl said:

but I think the question of how that is fair to other religions is a legitimate one. The public square is not the same as the church.

Fair to other religions???? C'mon Daryl, Jesus said "I am THE way, THE truth and THE life no one comes to the Father but by me."

It's very UNFAIR not to make Him known in the public square.

Your statement sounds VERY PC.

art said...

Dan: I think you might have misunderstood. I was talking about the Gospel. You are talking about salvation, which is an implication of the Gospel, but it is not the Gospel.

The Gospel, as Paul defines it (1 Cor 15.1-11), is the good news that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried and that he was raised. Through this good news (gospel) we are saved. But the Gospel is about Christ, not about our salvation.

Again, our salvation (what you were describing in your sarcastic and immature comment) is an implication of the Gospel, but it is not the Gospel...at least according to Paul, Isaiah, Matthew, etc.

Daryl said...

Kevin,

You've completely missed my point. My point is not that the gospel shouldn't be preached in the public square at all. My point is rather this:

Schools are not religious institutions. They are not qualified to present the gospel in any meaningful way. To ask that they do is dangerous, it will, of necessity, water down the gospel completely.
Like it or not, in a setting where the recipients of a teaching are not voluntarily submitting to said teaching, one simply cannot ignore their wishes. How that is PC is beyond me.

Additionally, do we have such little confidence in the power of the gospel that the concept of fairness scares us?
Given how our society has been designed to work, how do we justify preaching the gospel AS CLASS CURRICULUM and not allowing other religions to do the same?

I don't see the problem. I'm not advocating that churches give equal time, only looking at the necessary implications of making the gospel part of a government institution.
There is a reason for the separation of church and state (properly understood of course) and it's a good one.

If you're still not convinced, show me one example where Christianity was made a state religion and was not subsequently made unrecognizable by it.

Daryl said...

Art said:

"Again, our salvation (what you were describing in your sarcastic and immature comment) is an implication of the Gospel"

Actually it is THE implication of the gospel, the whole reason for the gospel. Therefore to make the two synonymous is hardly a hair worth splitting.

If N.T Wright avoids forensic justification, he has no gospel at all.

art said...

Daryl: So satisfying the justice of God was not an implication of Christ's life, death, and resurrection? Fulfilling Torah was not an implication of Christ's life, death, and resurrection?

Interesting.

And it is not hair splitting. It is reading the NT and seeing that "Gospel" means "good news" and that "good news" is CLEARLY stated by Paul in 1 Cor 15. If you have a problem with Paul, take it up with him.

Where does Paul talk about forensic issues? I can't find the term forensic in my Bible.

Interesting.

philness said...

So uhm...would now be a good time to discuss Truth Wars?

Daryl said...

"So satisfying the justice of God was not an implication of Christ's life, death, and resurrection? Fulfilling Torah was not an implication of Christ's life, death, and resurrection?"

No, they are the whole point of it all, not an implication. Reconciling Jew and Gentile would be an implication.

And, of course, the lack of the term "forensic" in the Bible is meaningless (but you knew that). It means, of course, that we are not immediately ACTUALLY righteous, but are immediately DECLARED righteous on the basis of Christ's righteousness imputed to us. But you knew that.

Phil Johnson said...

I'm sorry if the original version of the note under my byline ("This article was written. . .") seemed ambiguous. Not wanting to unleash the wrath of so many hostile anti-Pyro commenters on Roy Hargrave, I've reworded it. I'm solely to blame for the article. I thought the words "by Phil Johnson" and my new, expanded sig at the end would make that clear. But let no one assault Dr. Hargrave because of what I have said.

Art: I saw what you did. You latched onto an oblique reference to the "New Perspective" and pretended this post is all about NT Wright. It's not. His name isn't mentioned here. We've discussed him before. Sorry you missed it. But the discussion of whether this or that individual is or isn't sound on the gospel is dragging this thread off topic. Let's not.

pastorbrianculver said...

And to think that the new man in charge of the evangelical movement, Leith Anderson, was one of the guys who signed the apology to the muslems!! I posted several links and email addresses of some of the signers of the Yale paper on my blog. Thanks for your comments and I hope your vacation is a safe one!

Preson said...

Daryl Said:
"Actually it is THE implication of the gospel, the whole reason for the gospel. Therefore to make the two synonymous is hardly a hair worth splitting."

Are you saying that it is the "only" implication of the gospel? Heaven? That seems to make for a very narrow gospel. Makes life here pretty worthless doesn't it?

art said...

Daryl:

No, they are the whole point of it all, not an implication. Reconciling Jew and Gentile would be an implication

Ok, semantics are tripping us up here. You made the statement before that our salvation was "THE reason" and "the whole point" of the Gospel. By bringing up those other "points" or "implications" I was simply showing that there are other points and implications. It is not just our salvation.

In terms of justification, would you agree with this: justification in the present is based on God's past accomplishment in Christ, and anticipates the future verdict?

Also, where in Scripture does it state that the Gospel is salvation and not the declaration of the good news that Jesus is Israel's Messiah? Honestly, I would like to know because I can't find it. I find places that say the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, but not where it says that the definition of the Gospel is salvation.

Daryl said...

Preson,

I'll take Phil's note to heart on this one and defer my answer to some other more appropriate time.

(Incidentally, you didn't read my last post did you?)

Daryl said...

Art,

See also Phil's response to all of this.

art said...

Phil:

You latched onto an oblique reference to the "New Perspective" and pretended this post is all about NT Wright. It's not. His name isn't mentioned here. We've discussed him before. Sorry you missed it.

Where did I "pretend" this post was all about N.T. Wright? I copied and pasted the section of the post I was referring to. I never said anything else about any other section of this post. I never pretended that it was all about N.T. Wright.

I was referring to one little section of the post and never said anything else about the post. The rest of my responses were towards Dan (who asked a question) and Daryl who wanted to get involved.

art said...

Orwell called.

Discussion over.

Preson said...

Art,
my sentiments exactly.

stratagem said...

If you want to see the Gospel message screwed up even worse than the Emerg***s have screwed it up, then just get the government (public schools) involved in presenting it!!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Wow. Wow. That was simply a tour-de-force historical review of the hollowing out of evangelicalism in the past half-century by an insidious spiritual cancer that keeps mutating into different forms.

Preach it loud and proud Team Pyro! Just fulfill the Great Commission and deliver the whole counsel of God and His Gospel to me, unfiltered and unmucked up by trying to kowtow to fallen cultural standards.

Phil Johnson said...

Art (and sidekick):

To be clear: I'm not asking for an end to anyone's discussion about the gospel. That is on-topic for this post. I'm simply asking not to have the comment-thread turned into yet another referendum about NT Wright. When I wrote the above comment, it looked like that's the way it was headed. I should've re-read the thread before actually posting the comment.

Art: "I never pretended that it was all about N.T. Wright."

Excuse my hyperbole. Please forgive me. I'll try again:

Art: "If Mr. Hargrave is making reference to N. T. Wright in his mention of the New Perspective on Paul, then I fail to see how N. T. Wright has done any of this."

See, if the post were "making reference to N. T. Wright," it would've actually made reference to NT Wright, but it didn't, did it?

The complaint I am making in the post above isn't about Emerging, Emergent, The New Perspective, or Open Theism. My complaint is about the so-called "evangelicals" starting two generations before the postmodern invasion who cared so little for keeping the gospel front and center and clear and accurate that they created a massive movement ostensibly committed to gospel truth but with an actual comprehension level so low that virtually any kind of deviation from evangelical principles would be guaranteed to meet with a "Well, what's wrong with THAT?" kind of response.

Your bifurcation of the gospel so that it's "about Christ, [but] not about our salvation" is a classic example.

art said...

Phil:

Your bifurcation of the gospel so that it's "about Christ, [but] not about our salvation" is a classic example.

Where does Paul, Isaiah, Matthew, or anyone else define the Gospel as "our salvation"?

Like I have been saying, it seems pretty clear from 1 Cor 15 that the Gospel is the good news about Jesus.

Kevin said...

Strat & Daryl,

I must not be expressing myself correctly. I'm not saying that the gospel should be taught in the public schools by individuals who would water it down. I'm saying just what "tuad" said "Preach it loud and proud... Just fulfill the Great Commission and deliver the whole counsel of God and His Gospel to me, unfiltered and unmucked up by trying to kowtow to fallen cultural standards.

I hope that clears up what I'm saying a little bit.

Mike Riccardi said...

But what's the good news about Jesus? That forgiveness of sins is possible through "repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ac 20:21).

The good news is that "Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God" (1 Pet 3:18).

Rom 5:1-11: Because of what Christ's done we now have peace where their was war. Through Him we're introduced into grace (i.e., we're saved). Christ died for the ungodly, helpless, sinner enemies to rescue them from the wrath of God (v. 9) and to reconcile them to Him (vv. 10-11).

Eph 2: But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Rom 8:1-4 -- Because God did what the Law could not do (that is, produce those who could meet its righteous requirement), there is no condemnation for those who are saved. So even the fulfillment of the Law was for the salvation of a remnant.

The good news is that God, without any blemish on His holiness, has made a way in His Son for sinners with no way to God to be saved. The good news is that forgiveness of sins is available through repentance and faith.

Daryl said...

Kevin,

No worries. I don't quite get what exactly you were taking issue with before but that's OK.
I certainly agree with your last point.

Bless you.

Daryl said...

Mike,

You have a way with words my man. Well said and amen.

mark said...

Good article. And while I wouldn't disagree with it, it's worth noting that this is nothing new. Maybe the 50 year time frame fits when it comes to the term "evangelical", I haven't really studied that, but the prostitution of the gospel has been going on since...has there EVER been a time when it wasn't going on?

Brings to mind a little sermonette of Spurgeons' called "Feeding Sheep, or Amusing Goats?" Ryle often lamented the watering down of the gospel as well. The only major difference, between what was going on in 19th Century Britain and everywhere today, is the impact of media technology. The internet, radio, tv, the "Christian" publishing industry, etc., have only served to make it so much easier to amuse so many more goats in so many different ways.

art said...

Mike:

But what's the good news about Jesus?

As one esteemed theologian has put it quite recently:

"When Paul talks about “the gospel,” he means “the good news that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Messiah of Israel and therefore the Lord of the world.” Now, that’s about as brief as you can do it....And in the middle of that, of course, it’s good news for you and me. But that’s the derivative from, or the corollary of the good news which is a message about Jesus that has a second-order effect on me and you and us. But the gospel is not itself about you are this sort of a person and this can happen to you. That’s the result of the gospel rather than the gospel itself."

That is exactly how I see it as well.

Stefan said...

Great article, Phil. I haven't read through all the comments, but I'll throw in one of my one.

Almost everything I read that strays off the ancient and narrow path (Jer 6:16; Mt 7:13-14) seems to be somewhere along a continuum whose terminus is universalism and/or salvation by works...after all, the latter is the world's religion (in a thousand different manifestations).

This seems to be a cyclical process, repeating itself throughout history. The liberal Christians had their turn at it in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and look where it's got them. Now it's the evangelical conversatives' turn.

Maybe in the early stages of this latest iteration of the cycle, the evangelicals who got the ball rolling had no doubt about the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ alone; but as time progresses, the uniqueness of the Gospel message and the exclusivity of Christ seem to be increasingly negotiable principles.

It ends up being a binary distinction. Either one affirms the essence of the Gospel message in its entirety (let's assign it a value of one), or one does not (a value of zero). This is why we who hold true to Scripture end up being so uncompromising (and risk coming across as "uncharitable," etc.)...because anything less than "one" ends up being "zero."

Is this about right? Though saved by God's grace, I was still had lingering universalist inclinations, as little as about eight months ago. By the time Roy Hargrave gave his opening Founders' session on Psalm 2—the very same week our senior pastor preached on that very same psalm—that all changed.

Mike Riccardi said...

Art,

I see the point you're trying to make, but I don't think you can separate the two things into first-order and second-order. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, I can even see how your point of view expressed by the "esteemed theologian" is working to be more God-centered and less man-centered. And you're right, that all of this God and Gospel stuff is primarily about Christ.

"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything" (Col 1:18), and "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom 8:29).

But the thing is, the way that the Father glorifies His Son, makes Him preeminent, sets Him up as the firstborn, is by making Him that instrument by which the world is redeemed from eternal wrath and separation. It's like a God-ordains-the-means-as-well-as-the-ends type of thing. There are too many verses that speak of the goal/intent/motive of Christ's first coming as the salvation of a remnant for me to think otherwise. The 1 Pet 3:18 one is as clear as I can get it: Christ died to bring us to God.

Another is Isaiah 59:15-16: Now the LORD saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him.

God did what the Law could not do: bring justice among sinners. There was no one to intercede, so He bore His own righteous arm (cf. Is 52:10) in sending His Son to bring salvation to us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, such that there would be no condemnation (cf. Rom 8:1-5).

Can't get away from it man. But honestly, I think that we're saying and believing too much of the same thing to get worked up. Maybe the different ways of seeing this have implications I'm not aware of, and so it might be necessary to persist. But otherwise let's just rejoice in the Gospel and what it means for us rather than wrangle about words.

centuri0n said...

Art:

If you're saying that John MacArthur wears women's dresses, You will be banned immediately and I will send DJP to your house to eat all your food.

Because that makes as much sense as your first comment in this thread.

Phil Johnson said...

Art: "Where does Paul, Isaiah, Matthew, or anyone else define the Gospel as "our salvation"?"

Matthew 1:21 begins Matthew's account of Jesus' life and ministry with this: "she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins."

I could give you many more answers from every one of the books you listed <cough>Isaiah 53</cough>, but shouldn't have to. Besides, I really am on vacation this week, so this is the last comment I'm going to make today. So just picture me, if you will, with a multicolored wig holding up a John 3:16 sign in reply to where you're going with this unaccountably popular notion that the "gospel" is really only an announcement of the Lordship of Christ and the idea of personal salvation from His people's sin is merely an incidental footnote to the life and message of our Savior.

I say salvation from sin is the very aspect of the gospel that most explains why it is a message of glad tidings. This is a good season to remember that.

Daryl said...

Without the announcement of the forgiveness of sins, Christ's Lordship is very bad news indeed.

(At least it would be for the likes of me...)

DJP said...

Phil...picture me, if you will, with a multicolored wig holding up a John 3:16 sign....

An odd picture, yet SO MUCH better and happier than what I've been having to think about all day that yes — yes, I will do just that!

Johnny Dialectic said...

Bravo, Phil. Matthew 1:21 was on my mind, too, and my fingers ready to post. You got there first.

Great minds and all that.

Stephen Kroeker said...

Art: "Where does Paul, Isaiah, Matthew, or anyone else define the Gospel as "our salvation"?"

Ephesians 1:13
"In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit"

Paul said...

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:13,14 (NKJV)

Paul said...

Sorry Stephen...there must be an echo!

Stefan said...

Mike: You touched on something else that's vital, in your last comment. All those promises in the Prophets of a messianic age to come, of the preservation of a holy remnant with the law written on their hearts, of a gathering of the faithful from among the Jews and the Gentiles who would turn to God with repentant hearts...and who would be the means for that? What anointed human could possibly usher in God's wonderful promises through the Prophets? The answer came a few centuries later, when the Messiah appeared in history: God incarnate, God in the flesh, fully God and fully man, Jesus Christ. The messianic kingdom had come, and it was indeed good news! And so the Evangelists refer to the "Good news of the kingdom," or the "Gospel of the kingdom."

Given the other-worldly criteria for entry into the kingdom (parabolized by Jesus as being invited to a banquet—and accepting the invitation!), repentance and salvation would seem to be implicit in this good news. In fact, repentance is not a corollary but a condition: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15).

Stefan said...

So now we have word pictures of Johnny Mac in a dress (thanks, Cent), and Phil in a coloured wig. I may have to floss my brain.

donsands said...

"trying every way they can think of to tone down the offense of the cross."

Satan is subtle in his ways to diminish the Cross' power in all that it is; in all that Scripture claims the Cross to be.
Many today have even mocked the Cross as too cruel, and many embrace these mockers as brothers with a different way to look at the Cross, and that is to not look at it.

If ever I find myself saying the Cross wasn't meant to be so central to Christianity, then I would need to be accursed.

The Church needs to wake up to what Phil has so masterfully declared in his article.

And there is a remnant of "Fire-in-the-belly evangelicals" out there. And I pray that God would add to these 'called out ones' daily, those who are being saved.

Mike Riccardi said...

Amen Stefan. I just kept going, "Yes... yes... yes..." while reading your post.

I think it's so cool that all of us who really don't know each other can celebrate with each other over this same glorious person and the Truth that He both is and represents, and so feel like we've known each other forever. I praise God for the fellowship in His Truth.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Turk writes: "You will be banned immediately and I will send DJP to your house to eat all your food."

I thought that was as funny as Johnny Mac in drag and Phil in a multi-colored wig.

Strong Tower said...

There is a popular song that end like this: "...and thought of me above all." Which is of course inaccurate. Christ's primary concern was the glorification of the Father, it was not even His own glory first, let alone, ours, but that His Father's Name should be glorified. But to the reality of the Gospel being about who Jesus is, salvation is not derivative of Him or as a result of his actions, but is in Him the convenant One. After all, salvation is in His name, Jesus, which being interpreted means: God Saves. It is obsurd to try to divide out His purpose from His revelation in the incarnation and just as absurd to divide out our salvation from who He is.

But, back to the point of this post.

On Turk's site he has listed an article by Dever. And there was mentioned in this thread Carson's lesson. It is execellent. Why is this question being asked? Piper has a series on what it means to be born again. I had already begun a post on what one fundamentally needs to know to be saved. It is still growing with this addition from Phil.

There are some things that need to be known. I think that Machen understood, and before, it is heralded by Spurgeon as the Pyros have reminded us; this dumbing down goes further back than two generations. We might even peg it to the gospel lite of Finney, or the pseudo intellecual attempts at defining Calvinistic thought as rationalistic. But more recently other tightenings of the screws have forced the presures to rise to critical.

Among those were the ecumenical councils, a renewed interest in critical theory, and perhaps popularly, escapist theology. An affluent society has no room for inconvenience and challenges to its security in wealth. We came through two world wars and in the last a holocaust that was preceded by a half century of dumbing down the texts and undermining their credibility. The rise of Hitler and his "emergent" theology made man the determiner of religious reality. Salvation, was to the fascist, the establishment of heaven on a renewed Eden, an environmentally friendly mother earth, all begotten by the actualization of the new man. Man was his own resurrection. At the end of the war when the atrocities became widely known, a new term was added to the world lexicon, c. 1948, anti-semitism.

Preaching Christ crucified by the Jews at the hands of the Romans became a politically incorrect way of preaching the Gospel. Hitler had dirtied the Scripture by claiming that the Jews were the Christ killers. But, the Gospel is an historic event. Bound by historic experience, as Carson says. This is only a symptom, but a deadly one, to remove the Gospel from its historic narative. It is part of a greater conspiracy of conscience that wants to get along with the world. Truth can be sacrificed on the altar of convenience for the peace of society. We find ourselves attacked when we stand as the harbingers of destruction. Because we warn of the wrath to come we are blamed for the ills of mankind. We are told our message is not positive. Sounds OT. We are told that we must change it so that it emphasizes the good, if we want to be attractive. So, on the one hand we remove the evil of men who could crucify God by removing God from the cross as portrayed in history. Then in the end, we remove the God who would keep man from creating his own reality, altogether. Christ must become an amorphous way, an archetypal god spirit within man. He cannot remain an historical figure, fixed and immovable Truth.

The Gospel must start with the proclaimaiton of the curse as John the Baptist said, "Who has warned you to flee the wrath to come." Without that warning, there is no coming. And John wanted to know who had preaced the Gospel to them. There can be no baptism of repentance without the mortal fear of Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. There must be reasonable cause that would drive someone to flee to the ark of our salvation. And that reasonable fear must have its ground in God's proclaimation of our sin and the utter hopelessness and inability to keep ourselves from the wrath to come. It is only at that point of abject humility that the good news can be completed by proclaiming Christ.

mark said...

Strong Tower said:

"It is only at that point of abject humility that the good news can be completed by proclaiming Christ."

But Goat Chow has zero grams of abject humility. It's like kryptonite to goats. Hence, the myriad flavors of Gospel Lite.

mark said...

Re-reading Phil's post, the last sentence really caught my attention. Phil said:

"Evangelicals for the past half-century have done a miserably poor job at that task, and it's time to take our calling more seriously."

I've felt for a long time, that those preaching "Gospel Lite" were never truly called, but rather, entered the pulpit of their own volition. It seems incomprehensible to me that the God of the Bible would call preachers to proclaim a message of self-esteem, or health & wealth, or never mentioning sin-hell-repentence-judgement, or neo-marxism, etc. Just strikes me as way out of character for The Lord Our Righteousness. No?

SEALCON said...

Mike
I want to amen for your comment as well. What makes what you wrote different from others who have commented, even the TP guys, is the amount of Scripture you have included and focused our thoughts on. THAT is what made it so powerful.

Hey, maybe Phil would let you write your own article sometime here. I know I'm not the only one who thinks that would be a good idea.

Thanks again Mike.

Your sister in Christ,
Connie

Habitans in Sicco said...

Art: "The Gospel, as Paul defines it (1 Cor 15.1-11), is the good news that Christ died for our sins. . .

That's what just about everybody but you has been saying here.

Art: But the Gospel is about Christ, not about our salvation."

Huh? Like you already said, it's about what Christ did to procure our salvation. or do you think "died for our sins" means something other than "died to make atonement for our sins"?




Oh, wait. I see. I guess that's EXACTLY what you think.

Art: "Where does Paul talk about forensic issues? I can't find the term forensic in my Bible.

Was it the term you're looking for, or the idea? Because the idea is everywhere in Paul's epistles. See Romans 3-4, for example.

Incidentally, have you found the word "Trinity" in your Bible yet? No? You gonna throw that doctrine in the bin too?



Interesting.

art said...

Phil: You quoted Matthew 1.21. Where in that verse does it say, "The Gospel is that he will save his people from their sins"? You can make implications and assumptions about that passage, but don't expect me to buy it. John 3.16, as well, does not even include the term "gospel" in it. John 3.16 explains an implication of the Gospel, but it doesn't even include the word. Again, don't expect me to buy into your implications when they seemingly mean that I then have to go against Paul who states more than plainly TWICE what the Gospel is.

Romans 1.1ff: "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations..."

It seems that here Paul explicitly defines the Gospel in terms of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. That is the Gospel.

Through this Gospel we have received grace. Paul moves from the definition of the Gospel to the implications of the Gospel. That seems pretty clear.

But just in case it wasn't, Paul does it again in 1 Cor 15: "Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain."

So salvation, according to Paul, is by the Gospel, an implication of the Gospel, it is what happens when the good news of "Jesus was Israel's Messiah, he rose and is therefore Lord of all" is announced. Paul then continues in the next few verses to explicitly state that the Gospel is about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The Gospel is the news that is announced. What results from that announcement are the implications (i.e. salvation, restoration, justification, union with Christ, etc.).

Turk: Thanks for your stimulating addition to the conversation.

Stephen: Does that say "The Gospel is your salvation" or "the gospel of your salvation"? Again, you are making implications that the text does not explicitly say, which is fine in some cases, but don't expect me to believe it when it is explicitly stated otherwise.

habitans in sicco: No, I am not going to throw out the Trinity. The point I was making was in regards to a commentor who said that if N.T. Wright does not have forensic justification than he doesn't have the Gospel.
Yet, Scripture tells us that we are justified by faith, not that we are justified by believing in a certain understanding of how justification by faith works.
My point being, although I believe that justification by faith is the doctrine taught by Scripture, I also realize that one is justified by faith, not by believing in justification by faith.

tck said...

A whole lot of interessting reading this, both the historical and doctrinal statements and arguments in the post, as well as the discussion in the comments..

One questions regarding the article though..

The problem can be traced, I think, to a craving for academic respectability and worldly admiration.

Absolutely a valid point. But is it also possible that the resistance among "fundamentalists" (early in the 20th century) against everything labeled "academic theology" have contributed to the modern gospel we've seen emerging (no pun intended) the past decades? I have heard that many conservative theologians left the seminars because of liberal theology, and that this lead to the thought of "academic studies of God" (e.g. the common and modern understanding of the term "theology") became synonymous with liberalism among the pewsitters..

I heard Paul Washer mention this argument in a sermon last summer, and being a stud. theol myself, it's a very interessting point. What do you (TP and others) guys think of it?

Yours in Christ,
Andreas

SolaMeanie said...

Forgive me for my simple mind, but reading this thread and the haggling over what constitutes the Gospel and "good news" made me realize something.

If any of us haven't spent at least a part of the day in Hell, I'd say that -- by and large -- it's been a pretty good day. And the Gospel -- that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead for our justification -- is good news indeed.

How in the world did such an argument get started in this meta? I've read through it several times and still don't quite understand how one thing led to another. I must be in the early stages of dementia. Did I miss something somewhere?

art said...

Sola: It began by me mentioning that Tom Wright does not water down the gospel. Then Dan asked me to prove it. And then others got involved and Dan has stayed out of the way.

PLJ III said...

Phil,
Great observations. This is as a great argument for historic separatist fundamentalism. A lack of practicing biblical separation by conservative evangelicals opened the door to the watering down of the gospel, don't you think?

Jay said...

I agree with what Phil has written here. My question is: How can I, a person exposed to the church for the last (nearly) 50 years and recognizing how far off the tracks it has gone, find the right path?

Over the last two years, the more Scripture I read, the more I read here and other blogs, the more pastors, teachers, authors like McArthur, Piper, Washer and Gilley I am reading and hearing, the less of what I've heard and been taught the previous 48 years makes sense.

It seems that I hear the hiss of the serpent in more things than ever before.

donsands said...

"authors like McArthur, Piper"

These are exceptional, and proven servants of the Lord. (I don't know Washer & Gilley as well)
Scripture is our final authority of course, but there are godly men, who have the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.
Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruit".

And there are plenty of fasle teachers, and wolves in the ranks today; perhaps more than ever before.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

plj iii writes: "Phil,
Great observations. This is as a great argument for historic separatist fundamentalism. A lack of practicing biblical separation by conservative evangelicals opened the door to the watering down of the gospel, don't you think?"

Heh, heh, I saw that one coming a mile away. And I know what the RC's will say about all the multiplication of separatist denominations and churches: "Look at how divisive the Prots are, and their terrible lack of unity! Come home to Rome!"

Theophilus said...

My $.02 worth (some contributing factors to this present mess):

- contemporary preaching style having moved from expository to topical. (thereby 'hitting' only comfortable topics)
- generalized rejection/suspicion of authority as a culture has poisoned attitudes even in the church
- clergy neglecting Acts 6:3,4
- hedging difficult or potentially 'embarrassing' scriptures
- emphasis on personal relationship with Jesus may possibly be an over-correction vs. real-or-percieved wooden formalism
- humanism / liberalism in seminaries encouraged distrust of higher learning by some faithful (leaving them ignorant and easily deceived)
- accepting ideological defeat, (especially with science and philosophy) and reinterpreting doctrine to accomodate popular opinion

...among many other reasons.

Mike Riccardi said...

Art,

I'd like not to stir this whole pot again, but I'm interested to hear your thoughts on Acts 20:24, where Paul calls the gospel a gospel of grace.

How can the gospel properly be called "of grace" if it doesn't primarily, essentially, and inextricably refer to the grace given to sinners. The gospel of grace is that "the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men" (Titus 2:11).

What say you to that?

wordsmith said...

One thing that I've noticed lately is that people seem to be playing
semantics with justification, saying stuff like "we are justified by faith, not by believing in justification by faith." To me, this seems to be saying essentially that a person's view on the atonement doesn't matter, and is thus a rear-flank attack on the gospel. (I don't know where people are getting this notion, unless it comes from imbibing in NT Wright and/or NPP/Auburn Avenue Theology.) I mean, can a person maintain non-belief in justification by faith and really have a saving knowledge of the gospel? Luther called justification by faith the article by which the church stands or falls - if "justification by faith" is relegated to secondary status, isn't that antithetical to
Reformed doctrine? Or am I missing something here?

Mike Riccardi said...

I hear you wordsmith. We're justified by faith... but by faith in what? By faith in the gospel? Well, what does that mean?

And that's where we are here.

In short form, I'd say that the good news of Christ is that I'm a dirty sinner condemned before a thrice holy God, but that because of Jesus Christ God imputes my sin to Him and His righteousness to me by virtue of my believing, trusting, and treasuring Christ as my sufficiency for righteousness, my all in all. And so by virtue of that imputation, I'm no longer condemned, but justified based on the merits of Christ.

(For the better version, see Rom 8:1-4.)

Daryl said...

Mike,

If I may, I'll steal part of your last posting to make a point (which I made before but I think it bears repeating)

"In short form, I'd say that the good news of Christ is that I'm a dirty sinner condemned before a thrice holy God..."

That in itself is bad news, really bad news. Likewise, given that, the news that Jesus is the Christ and has risen from the dead and ascended to the Father from where he will judge the living and the dead, is even worse news.
There is no gospel (as you have pointed out) without the inclusion of the announcement of His grace to justify his elect and give to them, a right standing before God.

(This whole things smacks of trying to build a better mouse trap. Sounds interesting...doesn't work)

Strong Tower said...

Good call wordsmith-

It is antithetical to say that we are one thing, and then to say that we do not need believe in that thing. The belief and the reality are one thing. Repeatedly the Scripture instructs us to right thinking, orthodoxy. It is like believing in Jesus Christ for salvation but defining him by Mormon standards to say that we do not need the right doctrine to proclaim that we have the reality. Right belief, as you have remarked about Luther, is indispenible to the defense and the proclamation of the Gospel. Yes, we are saved through faith and justified by it, but what it is and what justification is does matter if we are to say that that we believe in them. People need to read Paul's admonitions to Timothy with the seriousness that he himself was impressing upon the young man. Doctrine, right-mindedness was of premier importance, a requirement of elders who were charged with the oversight of the souls of men. Our faith is the substance of hope. It is not some amorphous non-descript reality, but the very thing that is "down under".

michelle said...

3For(F) I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died(G) for our sins(H) in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised(I) on the third day(J) in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that(K) he appeared to Cephas, then(L) to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to(M) James, then(N) to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born,(O) he appeared also to me. 9For(P) I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because(Q) I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary,(R) I worked harder than any of them,(S) though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. - 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 ESV

I think that about sums it up.

art said...

Mike:

I'd like not to stir this whole pot again, but I'm interested to hear your thoughts on Acts 20:24, where Paul calls the gospel a gospel of grace.

Does it say that gospel is grace? Again, I'm not arguing that grace is not a part of the gospel. I'm saying that the Gospel is the message about the life, death, and resurrection of Christ by which he has shown to be Israel's Messiah. That is the gospel. Of course there is grace in there, I would not say otherwise. What I am saying is that salvation, justification, adoption, etc. are results from or implications of the message that Jesus is the Messiah. They are not the message itself.

How can the gospel properly be called "of grace" if it doesn't primarily, essentially, and inextricably refer to the grace given to sinners. The gospel of grace is that "the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men" (Titus 2:11).

What say you to that?


I'd say you might want to lay off adding words into Titus before your prooftexts. But I would also say, again, that I never said grace is part of the gospel. Look back through my comments. I never even used the word.

art said...

(correction to last paragraph) I never said grace ISN'T part of the gospel.

Mike Riccardi said...

Art, I'm not adding any words into Titus. I'm making a connection between two passages that talk about the good news of Christ. To say that the gospel of grace is not "the gospel is grace" is starting to get silly. The gospel of grace, Acts 20:24. Ok, what's the grace? Titus 2:11.

I put the actual text in quotes and do not intend to add my own words into the text. I actually really don't appreciate that you made that accusation.

art said...

Mike:

To say that the gospel of grace is not "the gospel is grace" is starting to get silly.

That's fine that you think it's "silly," but it's still the truth. The Biblical text, which I'm assuming we both believe is the Word of God, says "gospel OF grace." Why attempt to make it say something different?

I do have a problem with your connection between Acts and Titus. For one thing, it is an "illegitimate totality transfer" to read something from Luke's work completely into Paul (or Pseudo-Paul, or whoever you believe wrote Titus). I don't think the author of Titus' point want to further define something written in Acts.

If you want to continue this conversation, I would be willing to do it via email. If you check my profile it links to my blog at wordpress and my email address is in the 'about me' section at the bottom.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Daryl said...

Doesn't "the gospel of grace" indicate that grace is part of, and not a result of, the gospel?

The Queen of England, doesn't mean England is incidental to the title, it means that without England there is no queen. Likewise, without grace, there is no gospel. Ergo, the fact the Jesus came, lived, died, rose and ascended is not the gospel without the inclusion of the grace of God for salvation also included.

Daryl said...

I just realized something here, perhaps you've all thought of it before.
This idea that Art is putting forth, the idea that the gospel is define simply as Christ's coming, livin, dying and rising (as that "leading theologian" has defined it)conveniently encompasses the Roman church as teaching the gospel. Dangerous ground methinks.

art said...

Daryl:

Please actually read my comments.

I said before, But I would also say, again, that I never said grace isn't part of the gospel. Look back through my comments. I never even used the word.

You have also, once again, failed to show me where Scripture equates the gospel with salvation. If you find one, please email me. You can find my email on my blog in the 'about me' section.

Thanks.