Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gospel Centrality

I have noticed the terms "Gospel centrality" and "Gospel-centeredness" used quite frequently on several blogs and on many tweets as of late. Frankly, I like the terms. The Gospel is the message that changed my life. The Gospel is the only message that has the power to change this world. I am all about having a Gospel-centered life and a Gospel-centered ministry.

But the trend that I am seeing amongst New-evangelicals, and even a number of Independent Baptists, is an attempt to tear down those who ecclesiastically separate from certain movements on biblical grounds; and they are using this concept of "Gospel-centeredness" as their main justification for their rhetoric. They say things like, "Anyone who ecclesiastically separates from another church, camp, or movement over anything outside of the truth of the Gospel is divisive." Certainly, if a church, camp, or movement does not preach the truth of the Gospel as found in the Bible, that is without question grounds for ecclesiastical separation. But is it true that just because a church separates itself ecclesiastically on other grounds besides the truth of the Gospel, that church is being unnecessarily contentious and divisive? I don't think so.

Granted, I understand that some Independent Baptists have separated themselves for many of the right reasons, but with the wrong spirit. Ecclesiastical separation with an ungodly spirit is a sin. But contrary to what some are insisting, not everyone who separates from worldly music, immodest clothing, false teachings of grace, etc. has a bad spirit. It is possible to have the right position with the right disposition. Churches that preach the Gospel, but do not preach personal separation or holy living, are not my enemies. If they are truly saved by the blood of Christ, they are my brothers and sisters in Christ. But that does not mean that I cannot ecclesiastically separate from a church that is not preaching the whole counsel of God. Furthermore, it does not mean that I cannot preach against the postmodern, emergent church mentality that teaches a grace that gives a license to sin and brings Jesus down to the status of a homeboy down the street.

Gospel centrality is absolutely important; but holy living and a proper understanding of God's grace are also important. And as long as it is done with a right spirit, there are times when we must ecclesiastically separate from churches and movements who are not fully following the clear teachings of the Bible.

1 comment:

  1. Ironically, many of the people who are claiming "Gospel-centrality" as a hallmark of their lives and ministries seem to be "centered" around a gospel that isn't strong enough to change a person inside and out. The true Gospel of Jesus Christ makes a person a completely new creature, not just the same old person but "with Christian words".