What is the “Greatest Threat to the Gospel”?

"What this 'greatest threat' trope ignores is the clear teaching of Jesus that He will build His church and not even the gates of hell will prevail against it (Matthew 16:17-19). The gospel is never threatened because it is the Savior who ensures His kingdom will advance." - LifeWay

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Aaron Blumer's picture

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The article compares threat language today to threat language of the 2nd century, etc. 

He's definitely got a point about overblown rhetoric.

There's a difference between present day USA and ancient, pre-Constantinian Rome, though. The Christian worldview--and close cousins--were huge in forming American culture. And I'm persuaded, with lots of other folks, that openness to the gospel across a culture has a relationship to what people's starting point is. What assumptions/beliefs do we have in common to act as the beginning of a conversation? The drift from those shared beliefs makes gospel witness a more laborious process. We more often have to start with who God is--or that there is a personal God.

There are, though, as many have pointed out, trade-offs. In a highly Christianized culture, people are more apt to see themselves as "Christians" when they have no actual personal faith. They're arguably less likely to recognize their need for the Savior.

Anyway, all that to say this: when people talk about "threat to the gospel" they don't generally mean that the Kingdom is going to fail to be established or that God's arm is shortened that He cannot save. They're talking about ideas that make the gospel harder to understand and believe and ideas that hinder Christians from living in ways the gospel demands.

Some of this comes down to your view of Kingdom, for sure. Jesus didn't promise that His church building would continue uninterrupted in every region. So there's nothing in His words that promises there can't be a collapse of the church in a particular place for a period of time. We know how the journey of "Christ building His church" ends. We don't know what path that will take in any particular place or even globally.

Paul predicts a great falling away before the parousia. (2 Thess 2:1-3)

 

 

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.