Definition of Gospel


     In my last posts I looked at a couple of passages that are very popular with Christians, Ephesians 2:8-9 and John 3:16.  Those posts reveal the need to define the word, “gospel” since, for example, I said that many consider John 3:16 as the gospel in a nutshell.  I have repeatedly said that Mormons and Christians use the same words, but often define them differently.  This is one reason why they so often end up talking past each other.

     “Gospel” is one such word.  Christians define gospel as the good news that Jesus came to take our place – to live a perfect life for us and to die for all our sins.  That’s not just good news – that’s the best news!  The gospel reassures us that eternal life with Heavenly Father is his precious gift to us.  To Christians, gospel is the message of salvation.

     But that is not how Mormonism defines gospel.  It equates the gospel with the teachings of Mormonism including all of its requirements.  The LDS manual, True to the Faith, says:  “The gospel is our Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation.  The central doctrine of the gospel is the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”  And a few sentences later says:  “In its fullness, the gospel includes all the doctrines, principles, laws, ordinances, and covenants necessary for us to be exalted in the celestial kingdom.”

     Can you see the confusion this creates?  When the word gospel is used, Christians think only of Christ’s work and the salvation achieved by it.  When Mormons hear the word gospel, they think of the Atonement plus. . .  (Fill in the blank from the above quote.)  They think of the plan of salvation rather than salvation itself. 

     As Christians and Mormons converse with each other, it is important that they correctly hear each other.  One way that can be achieved is paying careful attention to each other’s definition.


7 Responses to “Definition of Gospel”

  1. September 11, 2008 at 3:52 am


    We have indeed fleshed out an issue that really did need to be fleshed out.

    But the core is still the Atonement.

    Non-issue as far as I’m concerned.

    Basically, all you’re saying is that Mormonism offers something new and that confuses people.

    Well… yeah… we do. And, yeah…. it does.

  2. 2 Stephanie
    September 11, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Seth –

    This is why Mormonism is not considered a “Christian” church. Mormonism offers something new, like you said, something different than what every other Christian church offers.

    In my recent post on “Mormonism’s Interpretation of Ephesians 2:8-9” I explained why Mormonism is not “Christian.”

    To be called Christian, there are two requirements. First, the church must base all its doctrines on the Bible alone. Nothing more. There are no more inspired works. If a church uses any other book aside from the Bible (even though it might include the Bible), it cannot be called a Christian church.

    And secondly, to meet the requirement of being a Christian church, a church must teach that salvation is through Christ’s efforts alone, and not human efforts. That’s really it. Mormonism fails both tests. Mormonism teaches a “Plan of Salvation” which involves human effort.

    This is why Mormonism, sadly, is not a Christian church.

  3. September 11, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Everyone is well aware of how evangelicals determine whether a church is Christian or not. However neither of these standards is based on the word of God, but rather tradition; which is circularly ironic. Especially ironic is believing that the Bible is the only word of God since the Bible itself refers to others writings that were not included in the Bible. Also, as the Bible didn’t exist during the time of Christ, apparently the Savior wasn’t Christian.

  4. 4 Stephanie
    September 11, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Like I said to Ditchu, you can drag out Webster and argue with God about what a Christian is, but I think you’ll end up losing that argument. There is not a single Christian who would disagree with me about my “homemade” definition. I should have been more precise. I am defining, “Those who have found the narrow gate to salvation.” Anyone who operates under a different definition of Christian is walking through the wide gate to hell. The points you bring up are superficial and easily refuted.

    Of course during Christ’s time, the word Christian probably didn’t even exist. That doesn’t mean that Christ’s contemporaries didn’t find salvation through grace alone, through Christ, and not by their own efforts. The label is helpful, but ultimately irrelevant. Maybe they called themselves purple hippopotamuses.

    And so what if the Bible refers to other writings? Does the Bible say those writing are also the Word of God? I don’t think so.

    As I said above, a true Christian church must pass two simple tests. It must base its beliefs on the Bible alone. And it must preach that salvation is through grace alone, through Christ, not of works or any human effort. End of story.

    You can take your dictionary and argue with God someday if you want.

  5. September 11, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    “First, the church must base all its doctrines on the Bible alone.”

    Oh get off it.

    You guys just made that up.

    Perpetuating a false and erroneous man-made doctrine for a couple thousand years doesn’t make it true.

  6. September 12, 2008 at 12:19 am

    The LDS aren’t the ones out telling other religions whether they’re Christians or not. We’re simply clarifying that we believe in Christ, the Son of God and Savior of mankind. We don’t have an identity crisis before God. We just don’t accept the evangelical view of what defines Christianity.

    We do respectfully ask others to not preach that which they don’t understand.

  7. 7 literalbible
    June 24, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Dear reggie:

    You said: “Especially ironic is believing that the Bible is the only word of God since the Bible itself refers to others writings that were not included in the Bible. Also, as the Bible didn’t exist during the time of Christ, apparently the Savior wasn’t Christian.”

    What other writings does the Bible talk about specifically, and in what verses do you find them? And there were Scriptures even before the time of Jesus; it just didn’t have the New Testament yet.

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