False Gospels

False Gospels August 26, 2015

The sermon last Sunday was about Galatians 1, where Paul talks about the Galatians having turned aside to a different gospel, which is really no gospel at all.

Ironically, those who are the most prone to accuse most of their contemporaries as proclaiming a “false gospel” look a lot more like Paul’s opponents than Paul himself.

Paul’s message to the Galatians was not that they were failing to be strict enough, or that they were not maintaining doctrinal purity by adhering to a long list of tenets.

Paul’s message to the Galatians was that they were adding requirements alongside God’s grace.

That isn’t the message you’ll hear from most of today’s fundamentalists. They denounce “false gospels” while opposing the very simplicity that Paul’s language about “false gospels” was meant to safeguard. To be sure, many of the variety of “gospels” that fundamentalists complain about deserve to be criticized. My point is not that what fundamentalists criticize is by definition good, but rather to point out the irony in their criticizing others while having missed the point of Paul’s own criticisms and warnings to the Galatians.

New Yorker affirmations negativity commandments

HT Hemant Mehta for the New Yorker cartoon.

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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    “Threat to the gospel” has been used so much that it has almost lost all meaning. Certain views of Genesis 1 are a threat to the gospel. Women elders are a threat to the gospel. Every millennial view in existence is a threat to the gospel. Failing to acknowledge a triparte view of the Torah is a threat to the gospel. The announcement that the kingdom of God has come definitively in Jesus Christ who will work to remedy affliction, reverse oppression, restore loss, heal, forgive, and carry his people safely through calamity is a threat to the gospel.

    There was an old Far Side comic based around a young Patrick Henry at the dinner table saying, “Give me mashed potatoes, or give me death!” That’s how I feel about the whole false gospel claim. It just gets whipped out for everything.

  • Tim

    Well done, James. The gospel is the story of Jesus and what he has done for us, yet some turn it into what we have to do for God. One way is grace and the other way is impossible.

  • Tim

    Absolutely.