"The Gospel"

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Rebel, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. Rebel

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    Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox agree on such things as the deity of Jesus Christ, His bodily resurrection, and some other doctrines, but they also disagree on some key doctrines such as the nature of God, man, sin, salvation, sacraments, ministry, polity, and the central doctrine of the atonement. My question is this: When all these Bodies present "The Gospel", if they are wrong on one major premise, or more, is what they are presenting actually "The Gospel"? Can a person be truly converted and claim Jesus Christ, if what they believe about the faith is wrong? Can a false premise produce a true result, a true conversion?

    It seems there is not one "Gospel" but several, depending on who is presenting it. How can a seeker determine which is which, and the true from the false? What are the criteria for determining this?
     
  2. JonC

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    This is interesting. You know, I was saved without knowing Calvinism and Arminianism existed. My theologies developed and changed over time, but when I was saved none of these were really present. I knew I was not righteous, and I knew the simple truth of Christ and the Kingdom which was at hand. God saved me through faith without asking me to articulate so much as the Trinity being like an onion, or like a book, or a triangle. Men make the gospel complicated, but what they come up with is not the gospel itself. Our explanations, theories, and theologies serve as an understanding of the gospel. But when I was saved I believed the exact same gospel as I had always believed....even though my soteriological views have certainly changed and developed with study.
     
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  3. Doubting Thomas

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    The Apostle Paul summarized the Gospel that he preached in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. Basically, that Christ died for sins (according to Scriptures) and that he was buried and rose again (also according to Scriptures) and he was officially seen by the witnesses listed (including by Paul himself). This is also basically the gist of the Apostolic Sermons (of Peter, Stephen and Paul) described in ACTS. In each of these we see the following with only slightly varying emphasis: Jesus of Nazareth being the fulfillment of the promises in the (OT) Scriptures, being crucified and resurrected and then ascending to the Father, and sending the promised Spirit (along with the commands to repent, believe and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins in response to this message) and that they were witnesses of these things. As CS Lewis put it in the SCREWTAPE LETTERS, the earliest Christian message was largely based on the one historical fact of the Resurrection of Christ, and on one major doctrine--the Atonement. If either of these are missing, then it ain't the Gospel.

    Is there more to it? I would certainly think so. Since the message involves God, Jesus, fallen man/sin , the Scriptures, the Spirit, and salvation (as well as the expected response of faith/repentance and baptism), then certainly there should be an agreement about what all of these mean. Who is 'God'? Who is 'Jesus'? What is 'sin'? What's man's condition? Who is the Spirit? What is 'faith'? How is one 'saved'? Which 'Scriptures'? And since folks who were baptized were then said to be added to the Church (ACTS 2): what is 'the Church'? What is the 'breaking of bread'? What is the Apostles' Teaching? If groups have contradictory views on what one or more of these things mean, then it's hard to see how they are proclaiming the same 'Gospel'.

    Some of the earliest heresies indeed began with folks giving profoundly different meanings to what the Apostles were proclaiming/teaching about the various aspects of the above. The Judiaizers thought that keeping the Mosaic Law was a requirement for salvation. The Gnostics in their various forms taught a 'Godhead' which differed significantly from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and a 'Jesus' with a different mission and origin that the Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed by the Apostles. Marcion explicitly taught that the God of the OT was NOT the same of the Father of the NT, and he abridged his Scriptures accordingly. The Ebionites denied the true Divinity of Christ; the Docetists, His true humanity; and so on down through time.

    In our modern time the various alternatives have multiplied. So how does the seeker know which "Gospel" is the true one? "AD FONTES"---go back to Scriptures and the earliest Apostolic proclamation about Jesus, and see how they were consistently identified and interpreted by the Apostolic Churches in history from the first century in Jerusalem and going forward. (A lot more could be said, but alas, lunch break is over...)
     
  4. Doubting Thomas

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    At the end of the day, this is a good answer. God doesn't require us to be experts in theology before we can be saved. Conversion begins as a work of the Spirit and requires childlike faith. However, the Spirit is the 'Spirit of Truth', and the same Spirit who convicts the world of "sin, righteousness, and judgment" won't ever lead people to come to contradictory ideas about God, Christ and salvation than what was first proclaimed by the Apostles. God is gracious however and won't boot us out of the Kingdom merely for being unable to precisely define sound doctrine using the exact same technical language.
     
    #4 Doubting Thomas, Jan 5, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
  5. Rebel

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    That's good, John. Maybe what God looks at is our intent.
     
  6. Rebel

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    I agree with your first and last parts, but not entirely with the middle part. Every professing believer holds to what you said. But still there is little unity where doctrine is concerned. How can all believers be lead by the Spirit yet come to mutually exclusive conclusions? Two totally opposite doctrines can't both be true.
     
  7. Doubting Thomas

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    All true believers have the Spirit, but not all follow Him perfectly at every point and at every moment of their lives. If folks have come to mutually contradictory conclusions about aspects of the Gospel it means EITHER: (1) one or more truly don't have the Spirit, OR (2) one or more may not be following the Spirit's lead at that particular point.
     
  8. JonC

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    I actually think it's the opposite, brother, of our intent. I know too many non-believers who intend on being saved. Instead we simply repent (even of our intent) and believe. There is a knowledge that must accompany faith, but I don't think it a theological appreciation of the gospel.
     
  9. Revmitchell

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    "The Old Cross and the New"


    "From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life; and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique -- a new type of meeting and new type of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as of the old, but its content is not the same, and the emphasis not as before.

    "The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into the public view the same thing the world does, only a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

    "The new cross does not slay the sinner; it re-directs him. I gears him to a cleaner and jollier way of living, and saves his self-respect...The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

    "The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere, but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross. The old cross is a symbol of DEATH. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took the cross and started down the road has already said goodbye to his friends. He was not coming back. He was not going out to have his life re-directed; he was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise; modified nothing; spared nothing. It slew all of the man completely, and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with the victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

    "The race of Adam is under the death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear, or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him, and then raising him again to newness of life.

    "That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world; it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life to a higher plane; we leave it at the cross....

    "We, who preach the gospel, must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, or the world of sports, or modern entertainment. We are not diplomats, but prophets; and our message is not a compromise, but an ultimatum."

    A. W. Tozer~The Biblical Evangelist, November 1, 1991, p. 11.
     
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  10. Doubting Thomas

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    Rev, you get ThumbsupThumbsupThumbsup for quoting Tozer.
     
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  11. Rippon

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    Correction: Not "be lead by the Spirit." You meant led by the Spirit. The misusage of "lead" is a growing grammatical error.

    But I agree with your premise. True believers, as children of God, are indeed led by the Spirit.

    How can they arrive at varying theological opinions? True believers will differ among themselves on a number of doctrinal issues. But true Christians will not be all over the map on the essentials of the Faith once delivered.
     
  12. Rebel

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    I'm not sure about that. The doctrine of the atonement is an example. It seems a paradox to me.
     
  13. heisrisen

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    The criteria is the word of God of course. The gospel is presented in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Everything we need to know about it is in the bible. So if someone isn't using that as their standard, they are already in the wrong.
     
  14. Rebel

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    But all base their beliefs on the Bible, and yet they come to different conclusions.
     
  15. JonC

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    How do you mean?
     
  16. Rebel

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    I mean that someone can be saved and yet hold to a false gospel or false doctrine.
     
  17. JonC

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    If you mean in terms of the Object of our salvation then I'd say no. If you mean could both Wesley and Whitfield be saved, then yes. We are not saved by our theology, and several of us have been saved holding a different soteriology than we do now.
     
  18. Rippon

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    Have you read Galatians 1:8,9 and 2 Cor. 11:4. Those passages certainly are forcefully against another Gospel.

    When it comes to false doctrine it's another matter. It depends on what doctrine. Being imperfect humanbeans we might hold to some teachings that don't line up perfectly. But the critical doctrines must be in place.

    No one is saved by adhering to theologically precise doctrines. That is beyond us. We see through a glass darkly;especially when newly saved.
     
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  19. Rebel

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    In your thinking, what is the difference between "another Gospel" and a "false doctrine"?
     
  20. Rippon

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    Believing and telling others a false Gospel is worthy of damnation as Gal. 1: 8 and 9 says. It is significant that Paul repeats himself. Those guilty of preaching a false gospel are under the eternal curse of God. There are not any two ways around that.

    Regarding false doctrine: As I said, some doctrines are critical --others are not so much. Many true Christians differ with respect to election, the nature of the will and the end times. To hold to a wrong view in these categories will not eternally condemn anyone.
     

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