It is interesting to note how often evangelicals are willing to claim that “the Gospel is at stake” in a particular controversy. Contrast that with Paul, who in the entirety of his epistles, only twice claimed that the Gospel was at stake in a given issue. Once was in the letter to the Galatians, when Paul spoke into the controversy there over whether or not Gentile converts to Christianity had to first submit to Judaism and the males among them had to be circumcised. In this instance Paul says that requiring Gentile converts to submit to the strictures of Judaism is “a different gospel–which is really no gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6-7). The other time was in 1 Corinthians 15 when he spoke of Jesus’ resurrection. Paul speaks very strongly here, going so far as to say that if Christ is not raised from the dead, then “our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (verse 14) and “your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (verse 17).
David Williams, in the finale of a three-part series called “Credo”, a post entitled “Credo: He was raised on the third day“, challenges us to not be so quick to claim that the Gospel is at stake in any given issue. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the heart of our faith; everything else is secondary–even things we think are non-negotiable. This post has been linked elsewhere in the blogosphere, by Peter Enns and by Chaplain Mike at internetmonk.com. If you are interested in reading the other two installments of the Credo series, here is part 1 and here is part 2.
Here is a sample:
We evangelicals sometimes act like a flock of Chicken Littles, running around like we’ve lost our heads squawking, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling! The gospel’s at stake! The sky is falling!” at even the slightest rattling of our little hen-house of a subculture. We could save ourselves a lot of grief by remembering the centrality and priority of the resurrection and by putting everything else in (that) perspective….
So ask yourself: If it turned out that Jesus is risen but Darwin was right about human origins after all, would you give up your faith? If it turned out that Jesus was risen but Protestantism was wrong and Catholicism or Orthodoxy was right (or the other way around), would you opt to become an atheist? If it turned out that Jesus is risen and that the New Perspective is more right than wrong about Paul, would that be grounds to abandon Christianity altogether? If it turned out that Jesus is risen but the doctrine of predestination is true (or false!), would you see no more point in following Christ? If it turned out that Jesus is risen but Genesis 1-11 is ancient Near Eastern mythology, would you apostasy? If it turned out that Jesus is risen but Mark and Luke made historical slips here and there and Jonah was actually a non-historical children’s story, would your faith be in vain?
Here’s the kicker: If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, not only are you needlessly worrying yourself over secondary matters, you may have adopted “another gospel.”