What is the Gospel: Back to and Beyond Eden

What is the Gospel? by Greg GilbertWhat is the Gospel? When I think over my time at college I can see a definite movement in the way that I would respond to this question. There is of course the small booklet by Greg Gilbert “What is the Gospel” which outlines the answer with which I arrived at college. He boils it down to God, Man, Christ, Response. Or, to skip the explanations, he boils the Gospel down to “salvation”.

In the last few years it has been in vogue to talk about the Gospel as being something broader than salvation. Scot McKnight incited plenty of debate in the evangelical blogosphere with his “King Jesus Gospel”  and of course NT Wright has been saying the same sort of thing for some time now. In an interview with Trevin Wax Wright describes the Gospel as:

God is becoming King and he is doing it through Jesus! And therefore, phew! God’s justice, God’s peace, God’s world is going to be renewed.

In other words, the Gospel is not just about salvation (which, in these terms would be submission to Christ’s lordship), it is about the renewal of the world.

Not to follow the crowd, I think there is something to be said for this broader view. Imagine evangelism in which the offer of the Gospel is not only the promise of an invisible inward change but the promise that the world around you will escape the corruption of sin. The world around you will be filled with the colours of promise and hope. Of course, there is inward change. Of course, there is submission to Christ’s lordship. Of course, the Gospel includes and, perhaps, centers around salvation. Without these the Gospel may as well be the next NGO, they are essential. But the Gospel is God’s plan for the universe.

Tree of LifeEver since expulsion from Eden, the world has been groaning. This view of the Gospel is that God plans to restore the world around us to an Edenic state, where everywhere you look, what you see is good. It’s not just back to Eden though, the Gospel takes us beyond Eden. This is Eden 2.0 in which God has redeemed a people for himself from a world of corruption and rebellion and restored them to the point of indelible perfection.

The Gospel is the bellowing voice of God in reply to a world molested by evil. It is his saying, “Thus far you will come and no further.” It is an answer that he responded with in Genesis 3 that promises the overthrow of evil, the wiping away of every tear and life as he designed it. It is an answer that we will see come to fruition when Christmas comes again – when Jesus comes to earth a second time, when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The Gospel is God in Christ reconciling the world to himself.

Ignoratio Elenchi (Latin title: probably irrelevant article)

For a few months I have been considering writing something brief on a remarkably popular line of reasoning that is often employed and yet, utterly fallacious. I began thinking about writing this after proofreading an essay for someone at college who made this mistake. I began actually typing stuff out after John MacArthur did it.

It often seems to happen when the topic of creation comes up, this is perhaps because creation is one of the most contentious issues amongst evangelicals. It is called “Ignoratio Elenchi” which is Latin and therefore must mean something important (see what I did there?). The source of all knowledge: wikipedia, explains those foreign words as, “irrelevant conclusion, missing the point – an argument that may in itself be valid, but does not address the issue in question”.

The example that pops up again and again seems to be something to the effect of

Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 2:16)–inspired truth from God. “[Scripture] never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Jesus summed the point up perfectly when He said, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17, KJV).
The Bible is supreme truth, and therefore I am right!

By the way, I stole everything except the bold bit from Johnny Mac’s blog entitled “Genesis 1: Fact or Framework?”.

Now in general I don’t really like bashing chaps publically (like this). When you write a blog and get a million readers though, I feel like you need criticism (and I’ll email this to him as well – I get an absolute ton of readers so even if he doesn’t get my email, it’ll surely get to him simply by word of mouth). Here’s my criticism though Dr. MacArthur: The fact that the Bible is supreme truth would not be disputed by Meredith G. Kline. Why are you arguing for it? The answer is: because it makes your position appear to be the biblical one. Your argument, while valid, does not address the question. It’s really not helpful to say it, all it does is portrays those who don’t hold your position as people who reject the Bible. I believe that the Bible is inerrant, not people who interpret it.

Now you should know that you’ve got a bit of slippery slope fallacy sneaking in there as well, “Why could not the resurrection itself be dismissed as a mere allegory?” But I’m not really interested in that stuff, I just wanted you to know that I know a bunch of people who actually believe framework hypothesis and the Bible… For that reason, it’s really not a helpful to present a case for inerrancy or infallibility: if we are ever going to figure this stuff out, we need to start taking each others’ arguments seriously. As a starting point, let me suggest you imagine a person who holds to the framework hypothesis and rejects theories of an old earth and evolution and the rest, who believes the earth is young and who loves Jesus with all his/her heart – what is your argument now? Stop with the slippery slope stuff, stop with the ignoratio elenchi stuff and sit down and let us reason together.

What’s more haven’t you ever noticed that strawberries are red. Red is the color of incorrect things. If you like strawberries, you know what that means… That’s just a joke and considering the title of this post includes Latin, you couldn’t possibly have expected anything beneath it to actually be funny.