The Perils of Preaching an Implications-Free Gospel

ChurchLeaders | 9/18/2018 | Staff
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Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

One of the strangest developments of late in the ongoing scrums over the orthodoxy or heterodoxy of “social justice” is the shifts in understanding by various evangelical tribes and movements of the distinctions and connections between law and gospel. “Just preach the gospel” has become a frequent rebuke heard from camps who are concerned about the muddling of gospel and works.

Charge - Justice - Gospel - Gospel - Figment

I believe that the frequent charge against many advocating “social justice” that they are advocating for a/the social gospel is overstated, and yet the social gospel is not a figment of a fundamentalist’s imagination. It is a real message and was—and, especially among progressive types and mainliners, still is—a real danger.

At this point I put my gospel-centered bona fides on the table. I would hope that my writing both online and in print, and my pulpit and public ministries over the last 15 years, would demonstrate I am opposed to the conflation of our work with Christ’s. The gospel is not its implications. And yet—and yet!—to preach an implications-free gospel is in essence to strip Christ’s Lordship from his salvation. “Just preach the gospel” is not the full counsel of God’s word.

Reasons - Application - Gospel - Fact - Gospel

So below I offer five reasons why clear application of the gospel is important and why in fact declaring an implications-free gospel is spiritually perilous. I know this does not answer each and every critic of the social justice movement, and nor does it represent every advocate—because both critics and advocates represent much diversity in perspectives—but I hope it will serve to give many of us pause before we confuse both the gospel with its entailments (on the one hand) or confuse gospel-centeredness with gospel-only-ness (on the other).

1. The gospel does not exist in...
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