The Gospel According to Progressive Christianity: Is it Really Good News?

Why does Charles Wesley find the blood of Jesus to be soul-saving good news, and Michael Gungor find it to be gruesome and horrific?

Gospel is a word that literally means “good news.” It’s used a lot in the Bible, and Christians say it all the time. The Apostle Paul said he wasn’t ashamed of it and anyone who preaches a different one should be cursed. He called it “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes.” Jesus called it “the gospel of the kingdom.”

 

In my last post, I reviewed the book, Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. It struck a chord with some, and clanged like an out of tune banjo with others. Sure, there were some fence-sitters who just wanted everyone to get along, but for the most part, people either really really loved it, or they wanted to burn it to the ground. Here are two comments I received that represent the reactions:

When I read your post, a few silent tears ran down my face. It was full of grace. Full of truth.

And:

You are a judgmental bit*h. (Yes that was the message in its entirety.)

One book review. Two radically different reactions. I noticed that a number of the divergent comments and messages were centered on my explanation of the gospel.

Some found it repulsive, while others found it life-giving. But that’s what the gospel does, doesn’t it? It divides. And it unites. In direct reference to how the gospel would actually divide people, Jesus said, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” He also prayed that His true followers would be united in Him.

So it got me thinking about the gospel, and the emerging Progressive Christian “gospel” that seems to be underlying some of the contrary comments. After all, Hollis wrote that after she studied the gospel, she “finally grasped the divine knowledge that I am loved and worthy and enough . . . as I am.” (p. 30)
I’ll define both the historic Christian gospel and the Progressive gospel in a moment, but first, a couple more quotes:

He breaks the pow’r of reigning sin, He sets the prisoner free; His blood can make the foulest clean; His blood availed for me. — Charles Wesley, 1739

That God needed to be appeased with blood is not beautiful. It’s horrific. — Michael Gungor, 2017(source)

Why does Charles Wesley find the blood of Jesus to be soul-saving good news, and Michael Gungor find it to be gruesome and horrific? It all comes down to how one defines the word “gospel.”

Gospel is a word that literally means “good news.” It’s used a lot in the Bible, and Christians say it all the time. The Apostle Paul said he wasn’t ashamed of it and anyone who preaches a different one should be cursed. He called it “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes.” Jesus called it “the gospel of the kingdom.”

What is the historic Christian gospel? 

Greg Koukl describes it beautifully and simply in his book, The Story of Reality. He explains that every worldview must account for four things: Creation (How things began), Fall (How things got broken), Redemption (How things will get fixed), and Restoration (How things will look once they are fixed).

For two thousand years, Christianity has had specific answers to these questions.

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