On the Simplicity of the Gospel: Against Sectarian gospels

I feel compelled to write something very brief with reference to the simplicity of the Gospel. When a person goes online, in the main, and comes into contact with theology and Bible people, especially those who are selling their particular ecclesial tradition or denomination, what seemingly ends up happening, at least in my perception, is that the Gospel becomes layered over. There is an accretion, a slab of barnacles, an encrustation of peoples’ takes about the reception and appropriation of the Gospel that seemingly obscures the simplicity of the Gospel/kerygmatic reality. If I didn’t have the years of training I have, and the countless hours of reading in theology and biblical studies that is ongoing, I could see myself as a zealous well-meaning Christian, without such training and background, being overwhelmed with questions of doubt about the genuineness of my salvation. Whether it be questions about the role of baptism, the role of the Eucharist, my membership in this or that tradition, and various other issues I might be confronted with when interacting with these various online theological discussions, the seeming perplexity of it all could potentially blow my mind.

I write this as a person who is hyper-sensitive to things like this. I write this as one who has personal experience with these sorts of existential and spiritual quandaries. Some people are more self-assured, and potentially superficial, when it comes to things in general; and for these types that can serve them well, right up until it doesn’t. But I think people “out there,” in general, need to be much more sensitive to the things they assert in regard to the appropriation and means of salvation. Clearly, there are people out there who genuinely believe that their view of baptism, or that membership in their particular tradition within the Christian reality, is necessary to be right before God. But of course, that all goes beyond Scripture. So, my pause here comes, clearly, from a Protestant perspective where the Bible is the norming norm of all other subsequent norms within the broad Christian tradition, catholic. I simply want to leave this post with the following passage:

I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness; but indeed you are bearing with me. 2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. 3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. 4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. 5 For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. 6 But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things. II Corinthians 11:1-5

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13

Many other like passages could be adduced. The point though is this: ‘believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!’


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