Let me begin by offering my sincere apology to Greg Schliesmann. At my request he wrote the multi-part series, The Technical Meaning of the Term, the “GOSPEL.” For some reason I forgot to post the final in the series, which acts as a sort of addendum. What follows was originally to post on December 20, 2007. All I can figure is that with the onset of the Christmas holiday I forgot to post this and moved on. Here, at last, is Greg Schliesmann wrapping up his penetrating series.
The following comments were posted to former GES staff member Jeremy Myers* at his personal blog, Till He Comes. What followed was a longer comment that Greg recently developed into the multi-part series just concluded, which is Greg’s full rebuttal of Jeremy’s definition of the Gospel. We’ll end this series with this original comment from Greg Schliesmann to Jeremy Myers.
After reading your post, How I Evangelize I read the articles by Pastor Tom Stegall again. Here is a quote that I think gets to the heart of my thoughts and observations about your latest post:
“The Gospel which contains the cross, resurrection, and deity-humanity of Christ is now considered by Crossless proponents to be a fuller gospel needed only for Christians for their sanctification in time, but not necessarily for the unsaved regarding their justification before God. With the very definition of ‘the Gospel’ there has been an abandonment of a once universally held position within the grace camp.” (Tom Stegall, The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel, Pt. 2 p. 6:My first observation is that you fumed over a particular distinction that the articles supposedly did not acknowledge, but the fact is the distinction is acknowledged right here and over 17 other places I counted and numbered with pen on my printed pages of the article. I would be happy to scan it for you so you can see yourself. You protested that the articles suggested you do not include the cross in the “Gospel” which you defined yourself in your latest post and in previous articles as “the entire New Testament gospel.”
However, the quote above directly states you include “the cross, resurrection, and deity-humanity of Christ” in what you consider the “gospel” in the very general sense of New Testament revelation. The articles acknowledge this fact, but specifically highlight the REAL issue that you do not include this as an essential element for the lost to believe for salvation. I have 14 instances marked, that are either statements by the author or quotes from GES members, where this issue is specified very clearly as being what is essential for the lost to believe for salvation–NOT whether you believe the message of the cross and Christ’s deity-humanity are part of general New Testament revelation. You express great offense that the articles claim your version of “the gospel” is Crossless, but your complaint hinges entirely upon a distinction that you’re making that 99.9% of evangelicals would never understand — that you consider “the gospel” to be all the good news of the NT, not the message that the lost need to believe to receive eternal life. And even then, the article specifically states this distinction and acknowledges what you claimed it did not — you do indeed include the cross, ect., in what you define as“the gospel,” i.e., the entire NT revelation and, and your words “possibly the Old Testament too.” In light of these facts, I must say–even as I am humbly looking to our gracious Lord and remembering that my speech must “be with grace, seasoned with salt”–a serious question is thus raised as to the purity of your intentions in protesting a supposed misrepresentation that is not even true and leveling an attack on the author, claiming,
“...the author of that article is making himself look foolish…;” “I laughed in his general direction…;” “as for the article…the only thing it does reveal is a lack of scholarship…;” “his baseless claims…,” ect.Now if the true issue is so clearly defined in the article–THE ISSUE OF WHAT THE LOST MUST BELIEVE TO BE SAVED–and I believe it is, and like I said, I can scan my own copy of the article with notes and numbering in my own handwriting–and if your position on this issue is so Biblically solid, then why do you not deal with the real issue at hand, rather than raising all these sorts of protests and all this fuss about the author that can be directly quashed by quotes from the articles?
What I am most interested in is defending the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Again, the quote above gets to the heart of my thoughts on this. Christians have recognized that there is a general sense of the word “the gospel” meaning “good news”, e.g., “The Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Luke, ect.” But based upon a plethora of New Testament passages, Christians have also recognized that there IS indeed also a technical usage of the term “the gospel” that came into effect after Christ’s resurrection that refers not to good news in general, nor to the general revelation of God given through the Old and New Testaments, but to the specific message that must be preached to the lost and must be believed by the lost to receive eternal life.
For years, even GES recognized this and took this for granted in all their literature which sought to defend “the gospel,” i.e., not the general revelation of God given throughout time, but to the message of salvation that the lost must believe to be saved. Even the title of Zane Hodges’ book, “The Gospel Under Siege” refers to this very thing–not New Testament revelation in general–but to the specific message that must be given to the lost and received by the lost for salvation. In light of the denial of “the gospel” as a technical term for this message by GES advocates, and the insistence that “Jesus guarantees eternal life to whoever believes in Him” by itself, without any substantiating truth such as His cross work or Deity, constitutes the message by which sinners are saved, for consistency, Hodge’s book should be retitled to “The Promise of Eternal Life Under Siege.” But of course “The Gospel Under Siege” refers to a specific message that nearly all evangelicals recognize because it is a thoroughly Biblical usage of the word that is substantiated in so many passages that it would be impossible to miss unless a person had some pre-determined reason to argue “the gospel” is never a technical term for the message the lost must believe to receive eternal life.
What could this pre-determined reason be? It seems once you accept “the gospel” as a term that in addition to being used in its general sense also as a prominent technical sense, then you are forced to admit Jesus Christ’s death for sins, resurrection, Deity, and humanity are an essential element to it. The claim that this belief also forces us to include the virgin birth and all sorts of other New Testament teachings in “the gospel” is simply wrong, ill-conceived, and contradicted by Scripture.
For an additional submission in this series see, THE GOSPEL & FAITH ALONE
*See Grace Evangelical Society Dismisses Jeremy Myers
Editor’s Note: I want to caution anyone who might visit Jeremy Myers’ blog, Till He Comes. Jeremy seems to enjoy posting some articles with a “shock value” to them. This demonstrates a disturbing lack of discernment that one might otherwise expect. Jeremy Myers not only holds to the false Crossless interpretation of the Gospel, but he has a whole other set of disconcerting issues, which lead to his dismissal from GES. Again, if you visit his blog, read with discernment.