Distinguishing the true from the false Gospel
As we grasp the gospel we realise that there is also a rival to it. Whatever is good and valuable attracts emulators and copies. There is a look-alike gospel, a rival gospel. And the rival gospel attempts to make itself just as look the real gospel as it can so that it is not straightforward to distinguish the original from the copy, the real from the counterfeit. The Christian gospel holds out the most enormous and ambitious account of human being. In response all sorts of other accounts emerge that take elements of the gospel and combine them in some simple and superficial way and make them available with the claim that they are cheaper. And they are cheaper, initially. They just don’t do the same thing at all. The Christian gospel give us a man with freedom. This freedom comes from God and makes him like God. The other fake gospels create a man without freedom, who is therefore like an animal, and remains just an animal with pretensions. To give people the fake rather than the real is, just like giving them fake medical treatment, unbearably cruel. And mankind is endlessly gullible and capable of self-deception. All Christian history has been about distinguishing the true gospel from the copy. We have to continue to make this distinction, by searching in the scriptures and teaching of the Church for the true, the highest and most ambitious account of man that the real gospel offers. This account combines the freedom of man with the fellowship of man, and so holds together our independence as individuals with the love that makes us servants of one another, and in which the truth brings the most testing self-judgement. The one ‘tell’, the give-away, is that the fake version does not usually involve any great status loss, any discipling and self-discipline. It fits in with the perspectives of all those around us, our leaders are OK with it, and it does not make you unpopular. The true Gospel shows us the long way of renunciation of much of what our neighbours and leaders value. It shows us the cross.