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A Negative Gospel

“The impotence of Christendom has been due to its failure to define its Scriptural goal. It has faced an enemy, self-consciously dedicated to building the city of man, with only a negative gospel, a mystical escapism, and a vague idea of the goal of salvation” (R. J, Rushdoony, Salvation and Godly Rule, 170).

In what sense is the gospel preached in today’s churches negative? It is negative in that, while it purports to be a gospel of salvation, it really is a gospel of escape, escape from the evils of this world. A positive gospel would look toward the growth of Christianity; it would preach the building of the city of God as it displaces the city of man increasingly with time.
It is a mystical escapism in that its focus is otherworldly.  One escapes from these evils by shutting them out and focussing one’s attention on the future glories of heaven. A popular hymn states it clearly: “This world is not my home; I’m just a-passing through. If heaven’s not my home, O Lord what will I do?”

The goal of salvation set before Christians in today’s gospel is vague in that it is not clearly defined. It is limited to personal holiness, something felt in the heart that cannot be measured or even described very well. It is a promise of a life to come that will make up for all the burdens that must be born in this world. The church is to suffer for Christ, which suffering is suffering for suffering’s sake. There is no clearly defined purpose for it. It is not done to gain a specific goal such as the furtherance of God’s kingdom on earth. This kingdom is not seen as something to be realized, other than in a very limited and spiritual sense, in this age; it is pushed off until after Christ’s return.
Scripture foretells of a future time when men’s swords will be made into peaceful instruments, a time when the knowledge of God will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:9; Mic. 4:1-4; Heb, 2:14). Today’s gospel denies this; it pushes it off into the far future, a future beyond the current age and not something Christians should work for or look forward to in this age. Nothing they do today can influence or is related in any way to these promises. History is outside the hands of Christians; their actions do not influence it in any way.

The biblical gospel is positive, real, tangible and optimistic. It begins with the resurrection of Christ, in which all His elect participate (Col. 3:1), and continues with their building of His kingdom on earth, a kingdom that is a great stone that crushes everything before it and grows to fill the earth (Dan. 2:44-46). In this gospel, Christ is seated at God’s right hand (before the second coming) while all His enemies are made a footstool for His feet (Psalm 110:1; Matt. 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:43; Acts 2:32-35; Heb. 1:13, 10:13). Only with much distortion of Scripture can these prophecies be spiritualized away. They stem from a neoplatonic view of Scripture, one that spiritualizes virtually everything it says. This is a consequence of the influence of the platonic idea that says spirit is good and matter (or flesh) is evil. Today’s churches, both Catholic and Protestant, have never completely shed themselves of this neoplatonic influence; it drives their otherworldly perspective of Scripture.