What is the Gospel? (The Divine Conspiracy Chapter 2)

So, what is the gospel? What are we telling people when we say Christianity has the good news?
In chapter 2 Willard analyzes the contemporary problem among those who call themselves Christians. He says that the more conservative side of Christianity has focused on a gospel where Jesus forgives us our sins. He mentions the bumper sticker that says, ‘Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.’ This is far too often the mentality of those who call themselves Christians on the conservative side. They think the only difference between themselves and the world is that they are forgiven. They can be just like the world and in the end, they are forgiven.
Meanwhile on the moderate to liberal side of Christianity the gospel has been reduced to a social gospel that is concerned with righting the social wrongs of the world. Willard rightly points out that this emphasis has led this side of Christianity to “love” other people, but not in the Biblical sense. Willard rightly points out that what is currently meant by “loving” others is “not treating people as different, while liberating them and enabling them to do what they want.” This, Willard says is just another version of the American dream. He concludes, “Desire becomes sacred, and whatever thwarts desire is evil or sin.”
Even when Willard wrote the book, but especially in the years after, the two ideologies began to blend together so that the gospel has come to be known as forgiveness of sin AND the ability for all my dreams to come true because Jesus will rubberstamp whatever I want.
Here is the problem with both sides, “Neither group lays down a coherent framework of knowledge and practical direction adequate to personal transformation toward the abundance emphasized in the New Testament, with a corresponding redemption of ordinary life.” In other words, we end up with no idea how to really change in a way that transforms us into the people God wants us to be.
The gospel has got to be more than forgiveness (a ‘Get out of jail free’ card) or getting what I want.


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