I’ve been following the kerfuffle among the Southern Baptists when it comes to Calvinism and Arminianism, and that means I’ve taken some interest in the statement by those representing traditional Baptists. Of course, I wanted to see how they define gospel, so I thought I’d post their statement and then offer a few remarks:
Articles of Affirmation and Denial
Article One: The Gospel
We affirm that the Gospel is the good news that God has made a way of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for any person. This is in keeping with God’s desire for every person to be saved.
We deny that only a select few are capable of responding to the Gospel while the rest are predestined to an eternity in hell.
Genesis 3:15; Psalm 2:1-12; Ezekiel 18:23, 32; Luke 19.10; Luke 24:45-49; John 1:1-18, 3:16; Romans 1:1-6, 5:8; 8:34; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 4:4-7; Colossians 1:21-23; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; Hebrews 1:1-3; 4:14-16; 2 Peter 3:9
1. This is the gospel I more or less grew up on. If you read the whole statement, the emphasis on free will (libertarian free will) was our emphasis though I’m not so sure we would have been quite so articulate on some of these ideas. I was surprised, though, by how original sin is articulated.
2. It is almost impossible for me to see a list of Bible references on the gospel and have nothing — and I mean nothing — from either the gospeling sermons in Acts or 1 Corinthians 15. As I argue in King Jesus Gospel, this comes down to method: Where do we find the gospel defined in the NT? First place, 1 Cor 15; second place, the apostolic gospel sermons in Acts.
3. I like their emphasis on the whole Christ event — from “life” to “resurrection” — though I’d like to see even more from the whole life: his incarnation, his mission/teachings, his kingdom vision, and all the way to the exaltation, second coming and finality when God is “all in all.” But, for gospel statements, they’ve got more than most.
4. Of course, they’ve defined the whole gospel as salvation (I call this the soterian gospel) which means this every time it happens: Christ becomes the means instead of the focus of the gospel. As I have said many times, first Christology, then soteriology. This gospel statement is first soteriology, and then second christology (who is seen here as Savior).
5. You knew this was coming: there is no need for the Old Testament for this gospel, and there’s no need for the Story of Israel, and Jesus doesn’t have to be the Story’s Messiah since he’s the Savior. Yes, of course, they refer to the Old Testament a number of times — and that’s good — but it’s because their loci find support in those texts. The framework, however, is personal soteriology and not Israel’s Story.