Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Social Order Gospel

The Gospel is big. A friend used to define the Gospel by saying it's Genesis 1 through Revelation 22. I'd add that it's also all the necessary inferences from Scripture. The Gospel is big enough to break into chunks, which is where our problem comes in. We over emphasize a certain part of the Gospel and neglect the rest.

Liberal Protestants are known for their emphasis on helping the poor and needy, certainly part of the Gospel, but not nearly all of it. Their myopic tendency has left them with only a social gospel; strong on giving, weak at saving.

I fear Reformed Protestants have fallen into a similar snare. Too often, the emphasis of our preaching, books, lectures is no longer Christ and Him crucified. The centrality of the Gospel may still be present but it is no longer the emphasis. The Gospel chunk we latch onto is social order. We focus on biblical relationships between husband and wife, children and parents, young and old, church and state. We are right for teaching these things, but wrong for dwelling here. These are not the Gospel's central message, but results of it.

Methodists have a social gospel, but what we are making is a social order gospel. It's as diluted as the liberals' version. We need to emphasize Jesus. Emphasize Him crucified for us. Emphasize the forgiveness of our sins. "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel." (2 Tim 2:8)

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