getting the facts right

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. 


8 Responses to “getting the facts right”

  1. July 6, 2012 at 3:48 am

    its good to see you back after a month 🙂

    I’m curios. what accusations did they come up with to label you “right wing”?

    the gospel which is the “RIGHTeousness” of God is revealed in it.
    – Romans 1:17

    I’ve seen a lot of true gospel preachers accused as ‘False Teacher’, ‘wolves in sheep clothing’, ‘insane’, ‘out of their mind’.

    i’ll probably add ‘right wing’ to the list?

    have a blessed day

    – grace and peace

  2. 4 Susanne Schuberth (Germany)
    July 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Hi John,

    Glad you’re back again, and I hope you had a pleasant holiday in France.

    On the subject of ‘getting the facts right’:
    I’ve always wondered why we as human beings feel somehow urged to put other human beings (here Christians) in some kind of drawer (‘right wing’, ‘left wing’, and all these different confessional labels). Why is this necessary? Is this due to the fact that we are different people with differing lives and subjective, personal experiences of what we call ‘God’?

    Of course, those (mostly confessional) differentiations have appeared after Christ’s death and resurrection when Gospel preaching spread all over the world. And according to my own experience, I think it is neither important what I think where I belong to nor what others think what drawer would fit best for me, as long as I know that I belong to Christ. I am a simple Christian, saved by grace ( 🙂 ) without my own doing, without any intention of my own to be saved, remembering Jesus’ words:

    “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” (John 15:16-17)

    I’m afraid that as long as there are vicious disputes among Christian ‘camps’, that there is a lack of the spiritual love Jesus wanted to see among us. Although I do know what I believe, and what I don’t, I think that increasing knowledge about God’s revelation in Scripture is strictly related to the quality of my relationship with Jesus, since it is His Spirit who guides us into the knowledge of all the truth (of Scripture, of Christ as God’s mystery, of the Kingdom of God, etc.), and who declares us the things to come as well (John 16:13).

    I believe that it is the Holy Spirit alone who is able to create (a spiritual) unity of the faith (Eph 4:13) in the bond of peace (Eph 4:3), since I know that my mere human effort to produce some kind of outer unity which is not the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in me doesn’t make sense; at least this is my very experience, having talked with others who completely reject Biblical Truth, and not having been able to convince them. After listening for a while, I sometimes find out that there are serious reasons why other people refuse to believe. It is often the case that they made truly bad experiences with other Christians, and that they then project their experiences (unconsciously) onto other Christians, onto the Bible, and onto Christ as well. The only thing which could help them here is – in my humble opinion – to love them just the way they are, hoping to reflect a wee little bit of Christ’s love, and praying that He will draw them to His heart, and finally reveal Himself to them.

    Briefly, I would like to see any of such drawers completely abolished and vanished, and that everyone came to know the Son of God, since there is no one in this world who could love us as much as Jesus does…


    • July 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      Very true Susanne. Yes, we had a lovely break – weather a bit mixed but better than UK. Sorry to read of your friend. I agree that he must find a way to accept that the Lord knows best. To embrace our circumstances knowing God will enable us in all things brings peace of mind. However, depression is very complex as we both know. Hope you manage a break over the summer.

  3. 6 Don Chiechi
    July 6, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Fight on, Israel, and recall, we do well not to take to heart to every word men say, or we may internally hear our own servant cursing us. For indeed, within our own boundaries, we are to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, which is to say we take captive (make servant) every thought; i.e., our own heart/mind. And in so doing, we rightly contend for/with the faith entrusted to us on the playing field of our life which begins within us and carries on in word and deed; a working out of our salvation as it were, kinda like a drawn out, life-long wrestling match–pictured well in the life of one first called Heel Catcher, and afterward named God Wrestler. If we shall do this and not grow faint, we may well find the power (vs. talk) in which the Kingdom of God is, residing with us for all to see–like a light on a hill.

  4. 7 David
    July 9, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Faithful defense of the Gospel. Thanks John.

  5. August 5, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    For many of us, the beginning of our walk with God was hearing about Jesus – hearing about Him in a way that made “our hearts burn within us.” Going back to our first love is best achieved by recognizing that our ship of faith has accumulated many barnacles since its launch, and the best way to clean them off is to recognize that Jesus Christ Himself is that ship. To change metaphors, there is a lot of dirty bathwater – we must continually go back and find that baby. Jeremiah 15:19 is helpful in this regard.

    I am not defending McLaren, but I am saying that “the evangelical gospel” often adds to the word of God in subtle ways that elude our notice if we are not constantly re-centering on Jesus Christ.

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the cavekeeper

The Cave promotes the Christian Gospel by interacting with Christian faith and practice from a conservative evangelical perspective.


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