For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:4 ESV)
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9 ESV)
Conservative Evangelicals and Fundamentalists are very quick to throw out the “different Gospel” card whenever someone says something about Jesus that doesn’t fit their preconceived notions of who He is. I am sure that Liberal Christians do it too, but I see it far more often in Fundamentalist circles. But while they throw this term around, there doesn’t seem to be anyone seeking to define what that means. It’s almost as if it is a scare tactic to maintain control over the populace that follows them rather than an attempt to defend the Jesus of the Bible.
Today, I want to spend some time looking at this idea of a “different Gospel” or “another Jesus.” I want to seek to define the idea and then point out some of the implications. This post will be multiple parts in length as this is a weighty subject.
Before I speak of what the Gospel is not, it is important to define what it is. There are many ways that I could do this, but I am going to limit myself strictly to what the Bible claims that the Gospel is. After all, the Bible is the Christian’s final authority, especially in matters of doctrine.
The Gospel according to the Bible is simple. God created a perfect world. Through the transgression of our first parents, this perfection was marred. God redeemed humankind by His own hand and demanded his obedience. But, man did not want to obey God and chose, rather, to do what was right in his own eyes. When the time was right, God came to Earth as one of us and showed us in tangible ways what He was like. People could see and touch Him. They could be healed by Him. All they had to do was follow Him. But, again, people wanted to do their own thing. In the end, Jesus had to be crucified, fulfilling the Law’s bloody requirement and covering over man’s sins for all of time. But Jesus went a step further. He rose from the dead, conquering death, and ascended to the right hand of God, where He rules for now and for eternity. All that God demands in return is that he believe that Jesus was exactly who He said that He was (He claimed to be God in the flesh); that He died and rose again three days later, fulfilling the Law’s requirement of blood; and that people act exactly as Jesus told them to act.
I hesitate to end this post at this point, but for clarity’s sake, I think that it is best to do so. We will be returning to this definition of the Gospel as we seek to understand what a different Gospel actually is.
Like I said, the Gospel as defined in this post is just the surface. The Gospel has many more dimensions to it than this, and we will see those as we define in coming days what the Gospel is not because, many times, when a different aspect of the Gospel is emphasized, the claim is made by some that it is a different Gospel. This will all become more clear as we seek to understand this idea of a “different Jesus.”