Dr. J. B. Hixson’s new book Getting the Gospel Wrong: The Evangelical Crisis No One Is Talking About is not a treatise on the “Crossless” gospel controversy. Only one footnote in the entire book directly addresses the issue. The footnote takes the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) to task on the key issue of the content of saving faith. IMO, however, a footnote, found in a book of over 400 pages hardly constitutes a treatise against the Crossless gospel of the GES. Please visit “Crossless” Advocates Have Gone too Far to read Hixson’s extened footnote on the GES Crossless gospel.
If I had written a book on what is wrong with the Gospel I would have dedicated a major chapter on the teachings of GES’s Crossless/Deityless reductionist interpretation of the Gospel. My book would have been a treatise on the twin assaults on the Gospel by Lordship Salvation and the Crossless gospel. My current book tackles Lordship Salvation. Over the last two years I have complied more than enough documentation of the Crossless gospel and the biblical answers to it that I could organize a book for publication. I may one day proceed with the project.
The following is the Preface to Getting the Gospel Wrong. This will identify for readers the true vision for and primary purpose of Dr. Hixson’s book.
Vince Lombardi is widely recognized as one of the greatest football coaches of all time. On one occasion, after a particularly tough loss for his team, he gathered his players in the locker room for the usual postgame speech. In a short but poignant statement, the coach cut right to the heart of the matter. Holding up a football, Lombardi quipped, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” His point was not lost on the players: Their performance in the game that just concluded had evidenced an utter lack of competency in the very basic fundamentals of the game.
A survey of the state of American evangelicalism reveals a similar incompetency when it comes to the basics of the Christian faith—namely, the Gospel. There is a crisis regarding the nature of the gospel within evangelical theology today and very little is being done to address the issue. While most evangelicals agree that Jesus Christ is the object of saving faith, there is widespread inconsistency regarding the specific content of saving faith. What is it about Jesus Christ that one must believe in order to have eternal life? Are there certain non-negotiable truths that must be included in a gospel presentation in order for it to be considered the pure gospel? An abandonment of certainty, as well as a general disdain for absolute truth within the postmodern ideological milieu, have created fertile ground for erroneous gospel presentations—each competing for legitimacy within the evangelical church at large.
Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that each of these inherently contradictory gospels is welcomed as a legitimate pretender to the true biblical gospel and few, if any, evangelical leaders seem concerned with the transparent incongruity. This suggests at least a couple of possibilities. (1) Either various evangelical pastors, scholars and leaders are not really paying attention to what other evangelicals are saying about the gospel and thus have not noticed the incongruity; and/or (2) each evangelical pastor, scholar, or leader does not hold his or her particular view of the gospel with any degree of conviction and is thus open to embracing competing views on the matter. Either explanation does not speak well of the state of evangelicalism today.
What is needed today is a Lombardi-style critique in which pastors and evangelical leaders confidently raise their Bibles and remind the church, “This is the Gospel!” The present work examines the postmodern evangelical climate and interacts with various gospel claims. Each is evaluated based upon the standard of Scripture and a five-fold standard of the gospel is outlined. The conclusion is both unmistakable and disturbing. Certain core essentials necessary in order for any soteriological method to claim a rightful place within biblical orthodoxy are missing from the vast majority of gospel presentations in postmodern, American evangelicalism.
Necessarily, the present work examines in detail not only the content of the gospel, viz. its core essentials, but also the nature of faith itself. What precisely does it mean to believe the gospel? Is there such a thing as defective faith and if so what is it that makes it defective? These questions are fundamental to any examination of the gospel. After establishing the standard of the pure gospel and examining the nature of faith itself, several case studies are undertaken as an example of five broad types of erroneous soteriological methods prevalent in the postmodern era. These include: the purpose gospel, the puzzling gospel, the prosperity gospel, the pluralistic gospel and the performance gospel. Each of these is discussed in detail with various examples cited. The present work concludes with several suggested correctives to the problem of faulty gospel presentations. Although the widespread mishandling of the gospel within contemporary evangelicalism presents a seemingly insuperable threat to the historic Christian faith, the battle is not lost. If the body of Christ will return to the centrality of the Scripture, and the clarity of the simple gospel it proclaims, revival and true evangelistic success will reshape the evangelical landscape.