This post is rather sad.
According to Wright, the gospel has nothing to do with the message that Christ died for sinners and that His work can be applied to sinners that they might be justified before a holy God.
Nothing to do? Wright’s argument that the term Gospel does not mean a string of doctrines, is turned into a claim that the term does not entail and has nothing to do with these things. I’ve written about this commonplace slander, which is simply a piece of unquestioned internet gossip among certain theological coffeeclutches, here, here and, by implication, here. If I felt it was my calling, I could easily write a new defense every other week against someone somewhere parroting the charge. One can also take a look at Doug Green of WTS Phillie, or Reggie Kidd, or even Charles Hill whose overwhelmingly negative review of Wright doesn’t say anything half so bad as this. Why is that? Is someone going to tell me Hill is disposed to promote Wright?
I’ll take the time to mention one point. Our auther writes that
a problem exists with Wright’s definition of the gospel itself. He makes the gospel about the person of Christ and not about the work of Christ. His mantra is “The gospel is ‘Jesus is Lord and Messiah’ not ‘Jesus died for your sins.’” No doubt exists that Jesus is Lord and Messiah and that truth is indeed part of the gospel message. But, to leave out the work of Christ as part of the gospel message is far from evangelical, much less biblical. In Wright’s thought, the gospel is the simple announcement that Jesus is Lord.
It is simply too easy to find Wright pointing out, in line with Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, that Jesus was installed as Lord by his resurrection. The title not only refers to his deity but to his office as the faithful man called by God to go through death and resurrection for sinners. It involves his work as well as his person. Anyone who had read Wright would know this.
The other day, Pastor Phil Ryken quoted Machen as “perennially relevant”:
If you have the peace of God in your hearts, you will never shrink from controversy; you will never be afraid to contend earnestly for the Faith. . . . But God save you from . . . neutrality! It has a certain worldly appearance of urbanity and charity. But how cruel it is to burdened souls; how heartless it is to those little ones who are looking to the Church for some clear message from God! God save you from being so heartless and so unloving and so cold! God grant, instead, that in all humility but also in all boldness, in reliance upon God, you may fight the good fight of faith. Peace is indeed yours, the peace of God which passeth all understanding. But that peace is given you, not that you may be onlookers or neutrals in love’s battle, but that you may be good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
This quotation, in Machen’s context, and undoubtedly in the context of the Presbyterians Pro-Life News is immensely valuable. But I worry how Machen’s words may have borne fruit in other contexts. We don’t get to choose the times in which we live. If God has not permitted us to be a Luther among the Romanists or a Machen in a denomination going Modernist, we have to submit to God’s (perhaps seeminly boring) will and make it our ambition to live quiet lives. I fear that basic lesson, and Paul’s many exhortations to pursue peace and unity, are not being learned among us split-P’s who maintain the Evangelical Faith.
“Unity must be around truth.” Well, duh; no kidding. If you can demonstrate the Gospel is at stake, well and good. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. But if you have to assure people that it’s a matter of trust, then I have questions. I would have questions under almost any circumstances. I would especially have questions when the context is obviously more than Wright but involves accusations about the orthodoxy of PCA ministers. It seems to me, and I have some intimate knowledge of these matters, that we may be setting up an ecclesiolological gossiper’s paradise.