A Gospel Issue?
I have a friend who is fond of saying “if you don’t believe Genesis 1, you can’t believe John 3:16.” He calls this “a gospel issue.” What he means of course is if you don’t read Genesis 1 exactly the way he does you don’t believe the gospel.
If you do a web search on the phrase “a gospel issue” you will find that, in addition to Genesis 1, there are all sorts of things being called a gospel issue. Among them are race relations, conservation, abortion, complementarianism, human dignity, and a host of others. In addition there are several helpful articles explaining just what a gospel issue actually is. I read a number of them and consensus is clear – the issues they think are gospel issues actually are but the issues raised by others with which they disagree aren’t.
To decide what meets the standard of being a gospel issue it would seem that we first need decide what the gospel is. While I don’t claim any more inerrancy of my opinions than I am willing to give to others I thought I’d say what I truly think the gospel is. So here goes, I believe the gospel is that…
…Jesus pre-existed with the father from before the foundation of the world. He took on human form in accordance with the scriptures. He died on the cross for our sins as predicted by the scriptures. He was buried and then rose from the dead, once again in accordance with scriptures. After a period of time on earth in which he appeared to many he ascended to heaven where he sits at the right hand of God as Lord. One day he will come again in power and as judge.
This is what I must believe –and act as if I do – if I believe the gospel. I’d be happy to know other explanations of what the gospel is but I am convinced that, no matter how important we think those other issues are, they are not the gospel and can’t be gospel issues. I’m not diminishing the study of these other matters. But I continue to be concerned about the way we imply – or even outright say – that you must agree with me on them or else you don’t believe the gospel.