All together now, “the gospel.”

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'm sure some are ready to take TA to the stake for even hinting that "The Gospel" might not be the answer to every question!

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.

Wayne Wilson's picture

I think you're right, Aaron. There has been a tendency in some circles to attach the word Gospel to all kinds of practices in order to give them a weight they don't really carry on their own.

Daniel.Viezbicke's picture

Excellent. While the Gospel of Christ is central in many senses, it is still news ​that points beyond itself to a person... ​Christ himself. 

Jason Meyer, the new associate pastor at Bethlehem in Minneapolis, preached this message in the spring; in it he used what I thought was a helpful illustration to think properly about how the Gospel relates to the rest of the truth we find about God in the Scriptures. There's a Gospel centrality that doesn't flatten the geography of God's revealed truth.

Paul could summarize his message this way: “I resolved to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1). What does Paul mean? Surely, he knew other things and preached other things. He did not merely keep repeating the words “Jesus Christ and him crucified,” did he? One author I read actually charged Paul with being a deceiver when he spoke these words. This person claimed that Paul intentionally deceived the Corinthians; he let his rhetoric get away from him in this summary—he spoke falsehood here.

 

I completely disagree. This comment shows an inability to understand how centrality works. It is not rocket science—children can get this. Kids let me aim for your attention right away. Do ever help your parents cook? Imagine that your mom tells you that she is going to make potato soup. She gives you a list of ingredients and you are supposed to put them together. You find that there are many more ingredients in this recipe than just potatoes. Why do they still call it potato soup? There are many other ingredients added, but there is a main ingredient. The main ingredient defines the dish and so it stands out front and center in its very description: potato soup. It is not as though the individual ingredients do not matter, that is not the point. The point is that the main ingredient gives the other ingredients purpose—how would adding this ingredient contribute to the taste of potato soup. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

The soup is a nice analogy in several ways. All of God's truth should be harnessed to His gospel purpose... and that purpose is much, much more than sparing some people the experience of His wrath. Rom 8.19

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.

Ed Vasicek's picture

It seems odd that the "Gospel Coalition" is saying that the Gospel is not the answer to everything.  As a matter of fact, I would argue that the Gospel Coalitition is only sometimes occupied with the Gospel.  IMO, they are perpetrators of the very problem he is addressing.

It seems like it is in vogue -- particularly is some circles -- to use the term "Gospel" where we used to use the term "Bible" or "Biblical Values Worked Out" or "A Biblical Perspective On whatever."

Just like the word "worship" has been drafted to describe a church meeting, so we are confusing what the Gospel is and is not. To say that the Gospel leads to these things (like the Bible, a Biblical perspective, etc.) sounds spiritual, but is nothing more than a rationalization.  We are in the cult of "word aura," where we have to use the right words to create the right atmosphere.

 

We use to write down motions or discussion summaries in our board meeting minutes, now we must "capture" them.  This obsession with "aura words" drives me nuts.  Or do I have to say I am "uncomfortable with it?"  Not me.  It drives me nuts.

 

 

"The Midrash Detective"

handerson's picture

This is a long time coming. IMHO, the way the word "gospel" has been thrown around has more to do with people not truly understanding it's original meaning. And it's become just like a whole host of other words that only have lexical significance within our own subculture--and even then, I'm not always certain it's understood there.

No, my test case for using any terminology is this: can you explain it in words that a five-year-old could understand or are you simply hiding your own lack of understanding behind jargon?

Because truthfully, I'm more concerned that this is what is at stake. If you can't explain how Christ and His redemptive work applies to a specific situation, just say the "Gospel" as a catch all. This is the greater issue--thinking and communicating go hand in hand and often if we can't say something clearly, that's because we ourselves haven't understood it clearly. 

Shaynus's picture

I think Thabiti would say the gospel is the answer to everything in its applications. His point is that saying "the gospel" is the answer without digging into the answer is a big problem.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Shaynus wrote:

I think Thabiti would say the gospel is the answer to everything in its applications. His point is that saying "the gospel" is the answer without digging into the answer is a big problem.

\

 

Reminds me of a person who once said she respected this guy who claimed he could lead someone to Christ from any verse in the Bible.  He might be able to move from that verse to other verses or truths, but that is not the same as leading someone to Christ from some kosher law, for example.  More imagination and ingenuity than honesty.  That's how I see those whole Gospel gobledy-gook.  You can say the Gospel addresses everything, but the Gospel word is just a jumping board for what really addresses it.

We need to get beyond this sanctified rationalizing.

"The Midrash Detective"

handerson's picture

Ed said, "You can say the Gospel addresses everything, but the Gospel word is just a jumping board for what really addresses it."

 

Maybe some of the confusion lies in too specifically defining "the Gospel" as what is necessary for regeneration. I think the trend to broaden the term "gospel" has been intentional--in making "the gospel" apply to everything from regeneration to sanctification to glorification. 

I don't see this as problematic in itself--the essence of Christ's work and the state of man transcend each aspect of salvation. I first came across this thinking in a conference where Dr. Michael Barrett spoke; that conference eventually became the book Complete in Him.

So the problem I see among the "gospel-centered" language isn't using the word gospel to unify the specific aspects of salvation; it's that too often in linking those aspects, people end up conflating the individual ideas without clearly understanding the specifics and how the work of Christ would apply to a distinct situation.

 

 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It's gotten messy at both ends of the spectrum.

At one end people use "gospel" in a very narrow sense but simultaneously say it's pretty much everything. The result is reductionism: every story in the OT has to really be a story about Jesus (I'm not disputing that they all ultimately point to Him. AFAIK, nobody does). And living the Christian life is reduced to "spend some time every day rejoicing in the death burial and resurrection, then live however you jolly well please." So you have "the gospel is all that matters" coupled with "the gospel is the message that Jesus died for sinners and rose again."

At the other end, we've got the folks who use "gospel" to mean practically "all Christian truth." And the trouble there is that what are you going to call "the good news that Jesus died for sinners and rose again"? How do you distinguish the content of saving faith?

To me the solution is to use the term narrowly and, at the same time, stress that it has many implications that are distinct from it... and that these are mighty important, too.

I try to consistently use the term 'the gospel' to mean 'the good news that Jesus died for sinners and rose again.' But I also speak often of God's "great gospel purpose"... which is the whole agenda to bring glory to Himself by redeeming sinners, crediting them with a righteousness not their own, transforming them into bearers of glory and reigning with them on a perfected earth for eternity.

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.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Hi guys.  Yeah, when we get to definitions, it gets sticky, I know.  But still, so much of what helps me live the Christian life is pre-Jesus.  Yes, it is not pre-God the Son, for that is impossible.  But if the Gospel begins with the coming of Jesus and not the proto-Gospel in Genesis 3, than I have found a lout of solutions in my life outside the Gospel.  

True, the Gospel has transformed me and is associated with my regeneration and thus animated books like Proverbs or Ecclesiastes.  Was someone like King Josiah, for example, transformed by the Gospel?  The Old Testament predicted the Gospel, but I think attributing EVERYTHING truly spiritual to the Gospel is confusing at best.  I still think it is about "aura words," words that create a feeling or atmosphere.

But it is not that big a deal, it's just that using the right words does help with accuracy.

 

To say, "Our new life in Christ is the position from which we tackle problems" communicates more to me than saying, "The Gospel is the answer to all of life's issues, problems, and choices."

"The Midrash Detective"