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.