In blogs, journal essays, and books, there has been quite a lot written recently about what “the gospel” is. In the hands of some, the question of what “the gospel” is may be tied to the question of what “evangelicalism” is, since “gospel” = ?????????? = evangel, which lies at the heart of evangelicalism.
No doubt my two children would cringe at the title of this short piece. Indeed, I can hear their cries now, ‘Dad, barbers are soooo yesterday. Nobody has one of those anymore. It’s a hair stylist or personal grooming consultant you need today!’ Well, that’s a moot point.
The doctrine of inerrancy has been a watershed issue among evangelicals in the West, perhaps now more evident than ever.1 While the inerrancy debate never entirely dissipated from its last spell in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it recently surged to the forefront of discussions about an evangelical doctrine of Scripture both in North America and abroad.
The summer of 2007 was the wettest in Britain since records began, registering over twice the usual amount of rainfall between May and July. It led to extreme flooding, the most serious since 1947, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Thirteen lost their lives— including a man swept away when crossing a road in Sheffield; another drowned when his foot got trapped in a storm drain in Hull; a teenager fell into the River Sheaf; and a father and son were found dead at Tewkesbury rugby club where they had been attempting to pump water out of the premises but had been overcome by fumes.
In the mid-twentieth century, one could readily find informed Protestant observers acknowledging the Calvinist tradition’s major missionary contribution. For example, in 1950 N. Carr Sargant, British Methodist missionary to India, explored the subject of “Calvinists, Arminians, and Missions” and maintained that these two expressions of Protestantism had served one another well with each goading the other towards foreign missionary effort.
Why are we talking about preaching with power? Because of what Christianity is. Christianity is “a divine and supernatural light immediately imparted to the soul by the Spirit of God.”2 It is the living God coming down through the gospel of Jesus Christ to change us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Real Christianity is pervasively miraculous.