The term “the gospel,” it seems, functions as a buzzword nowadays. It’s a shorthanded way of talking about one’s hobbyhorse of choice. For example, a preacher who is big on holiness will tell us that the cheap grace teaching of so many is not “the gospel,” but rather holiness is “the gospel.” Or a teacher big on grace will tell us that the legalistic teaching of the holiness preacher is not “the gospel,” but rather grace is “the gospel.” Or six day creationists might tell us that “the gospel” is God creating all that exists in six 24 hour days. Liberation theologians tell us that “the gospel” is social justice. You get the point.
I like to define the Gospel along two intersecting lines: 1) The Gospel, which just means “good news,” is that God is going to return to reclaim his kingdom and set in order everything that was put out of order through sin, and 2) He has accomplished, is accomplishing, and will accomplish this through the sinless life, sacrificial death, and triumphant resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. You’ll notice that I’ve taken the gospel of the kingdom that Jesus preached as well as Paul’s gospel and put them together, since I think they naturally go together and speak to the same good news.
But that’s the good news so far as I can tell according to the Scriptures. Holiness, grace, social justice, creation, and a whole host of other things are subsumed under this general heading, or at least that’s how I see it. But atomizing the gospel and focusing in on any one part to the exclusion of the rest is a mistake that I think causes more division than it does unity.
Oh, and btw, Happy New Year everybody!