Gospel Danger

After a few extremely busy work weeks, I have had a few days off which usually means I peruse the internet and catch up on the latest buzz in the evangelical church world.  A couple of prominent issues captured my attention and reminded me how we evangelicals love to attack each other.

For example, a well-known and influential pastor who has an impeccable history of fidelity to orthodox beliefs and the Bible is under severe attack for what he did NOT say in a single message within an 8-week series of sermons (yes you heard that correctly). Wow.

I was listening to a friend of mine this week on a discussion panel of a popular reformed conference  define the inevitable dangers of the recent resurgence of gospel wakefulness among evangelicals. His answer was telling. He warned that one of the dangers is that those who claim to embrace and believe in the importance of the gospel tend to become legalistic with our own understanding of how the gospel should and should not be preached, lived out, and emphasized.  Inevitably those who claim to believe in the magnitude, capability, and necessity of the gospel run the risk of appointing themselves and judge and jury for who is and is not proclaiming it.

Gospel has become the new buzzword among many evangelicals (similar to the word missional a few years ago). Without getting into a lot of the boring details, this return to the gospel is a reaction to another corrective pendulum swing from a few decades ago when the church had become so inward focused that it lost sight of its missional mandate. This movement to re-emphasize the gospel is a reactionary and positive step. Yet it comes with the same risk that originally generated the need - the risk of flawed humans deciding who is and who is not proclaiming "enough" of the gospel.

As a result, well-intended and theologically-minded self-appointed guardians of the gospel begin to critique and criticize others in their own camp who they believe are not proclaiming the gospel as it should be proclaimed. And soon circles are drawn in the sand to determine who is in and who is out. And the cycle continues...

It is amazing to me that often those who claim to be adherent defenders of the gospel are often the same ones who tend to rule someone else out of order who may not articulate certain doctrinal truths exactly how and when the defenders prefer.

Some questions to consider:

Do we truly believe in the power of the gospel to transform lives?
Do we truly believe in the power of the gospel to restore fallen Christ followers?
Do we truly believe in the power of the gospel (and not our rules) to sanctify believers?
Do we truly believe the gospel is bigger than we realize?
Do we truly believe the gospel operates in ways with which I may be uncomfortable?
Do we truly believe in the power of the gospel we claim to believe and defend?

If we can honestly answer "yes" to these questions, then perhaps we should learn to trust both the gospel and the bearer of it when they articulate the good news a little different than we prefer for it is "God's power for salvation to everyone who believes" (Rom 1:16). Let's trust it.

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