The basic elements of the gospel of Jesus Christ are rather easy to describe: Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, he was buried, and he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. One key question, though, for anyone who believes this, is “How does this gospel translate into day-to-day life?”
This is the reality of the gospel I used to preach for over 20 years:
1. Sense of accomplishment
2. Moral conformance
3. Regular discipline
4. Usefulness to God
5. Utilitarian marriage
As you might guess, this instilled in me and others such things as fear, confusion, tribalism and legalism. It also helped promote authoritarianism.
All of these things on the list can be proof-texted from the Bible and given better-sounding names. But none of them could invoke abundant, life-giving joy, peace, faith, hope or love! And it did nothing to keep the sewage of unholiness from sloshing around in my heart and mind.