All too often I hear whispers that I and others who share the same basic gospel I do are simply right-wing evangelicals. In the jargon of my ecclesiastical circles, I am ‘tight… narrow-minded… strict…’ not to mention other other less savoury labels. In fact, it is of little moment to me how I am categorized or into what ‘camp’ I am pressed. The important thing for each of us ought to be faithfulness to Scripture; if faithfulness puts us on the so-called ‘right’ then so be it, if it places us on the ‘left’ then that is fine too. However, I object to being labelled ‘right-wing evangelical’, not because I am oversensitive to labels, nor because I find ‘right-wing’ repugnant, but because it is simply untrue and untrue in a way that is dangerously misleading.
The simple truth is that the basic gospel truths that I and many others like me advocate and defend do not belong to some far-right lunatic fringe but are the mainstream evangelical beliefs that all shades of evangelicals have believed for centuries. They are simply historic evangelical orthodoxy. The gospel narrative that I and others teach is that which mainstream evangelicals of every hue have historically embraced. In fact, I would go further and say this gospel is simply historic Protestant orthodoxy; they are the gospel truths taught by all the major Protestant confessions. Further still, it is essentially simply historic orthodoxy for it stands loyal to the main church creeds and councils.
Thus when I hear others trying to dismiss and junk the gospel narrative that I uphold as ‘right-wing’, implying it is some sectarian intolerant and non-representative brand of evangelical belief that can be safely discarded or discounted I can only assume knavery or extreme historical naïvety is at work. I hope it is simply historical naïvety or ignorance. In many cases I am sure it is. However, whether stemming from ignorance or invidiousness the results are the same – a C21 Christian ‘urban myth’ is being created that is destructive to the gospel and the souls of men.
The gospel narrative that I confess (creation-fall-condemnation-salvation-heaven-hell), which someone like Brian McLaren denounces and dubs ‘a Greco-Roman gospel’, is in fact the evangelical gospel, the Protestant gospel, the orthodox gospel… the apostolic gospel. By contrast, the gospel that he and his acolytes confess, which rewrites this creation-fall-condemnation-salvation-heaven-hell narrative at every key point, is not the original gospel of Jesus (as they claim) and is not even left-wing evangelicalism, rather it is not evangelical at all, not in any meaningful historical sense. In fact, historically it is simply the gospel of liberalism – that baneful corruption of the gospel that evangelicals have historically condemned, root and branch.
The bigger the lie the easier it is to swallow. That the gospel I and many others believe is in some sense an evangelical side-show, a backwoods redneck version of the evangelical gospel is a whopper. Reject it if you will but please don’t do so because someone gets the facts wrong (deliberately or otherwise) and suggests it is some way-out über-conservative, wacky fundamentalist misrepresentation of the gospel. It is not. It is simply the gospel that evangelicals have historically confessed. It is the Evangelical, Protestant, Orthodox and above all Apostolic gospel. It is the gospel that saves. The gospel of which Paul says,
Gal 1:6-9 (ESV)
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.