The Gospel and the Social Gospel

What’s the Difference?

Christian social movements can fall into the dangerous trap of forgetting the gospel altogether. While some of these groups continue to do good, they lose the mission and purpose found in Jesus. In this two-part post, Peter Cha, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary, point out how the gospel differs from the social gospel. In this first section, Peter Cha explains the social gospel. 

The social gospel drifts away from the true gospel by focusing on service rather than on God. Peter said the lines between the two need to be clear.  

What is the social gospel? How does it demonstrate a horizontal focus rather than a vertical focus? How does it paint only a partial picture of the gospel?
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Why is it important to balance our actions and beliefs? What becomes compromised if we neglect one or the other?
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What is your view of social justice? Are there any causes you are passionate about? If so, which ones and why?
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This week, how could you work against injustice in your context? What might it look like to be fully grounded in the gospel as you serve others?
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Following God requires action. But if we exchange the truth for serving others, we compromise the fulness of salvation. Love God first and serve others out of that love for God. 

What are the Essentials of the Gospel?

The gospel has many components. If we were to boil the gospel down to the main, non-negotiable truths of the gospel, what would they be? In the previous section, Peter Cha talked about the social gospel. In this final section, Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary, walks through the essential truths of the gospel. 

Christianity finds its foundation in the story of Jesus. Ligon told the story of the gospel and highlighted some of its most important truths.  

What are the key components of the gospel? Are there any other components you would include? If so, why?
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If your friend asked you about the gospel tomorrow, how would you explain it to them? What points would you be sure to highlight? Why?
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Who could you talk to about Jesus this week? What practical steps could you take toward sharing the gospel with them?
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The core of Christianity rests on Jesus. He told us to tell everyone the good news of His death and resurrection. Be bold in sharing your faith this week. Hold tight to the essential truths of the gospel as you talk about Jesus with your friends. 

For more information about The Gospel Coalition, click here