I remember Dr. D. James Kennedy as pastor/theologian who - unlike many Christian pastors (and Christians) - was not influenced today's humanism that makes one preach a truncated gospel. A truncated gospel proclaims a lowest common denominator belief system (it asks: “what is the least doctrine I can believe in and commit to and still be considered a Christian.”). I am grateful for Dr. Kennedy evangelistic passion that compeled him to battled this thin, reduced, and truncated Gospel because:
- I am convicted that Today's (Truncated) Gospel minimizes the application of the gospel theology of salvation to justification (or just having our sins forgiven and/or being declared righteous) instead of applying a full, thick, broad, and deep gospel affecting all of life (including the creation mandate, conversion, regeneration, atonement, sanctification, preservation, grace, evangelism, church life, glorification, suffering, family, imputed righteousness, original sin, disciplemaking, obedience, holiness, joy, love, relationship between men and women, etc.).
- I am convicted that Today's (Truncated) Gospel also excludes the explanation of the character of God as the Gospel's starting point. While it is good for people to want eternal life and not to go to hell, the goal of the gospel is not to sell life enhancements but to bring people to God himself – to know God himself.
- I am convicted that Today's (Truncated) Gospel results in false conversions, unregenerate church membership, and an anemic passion for treasuring the supremacy of Christ and the glory of God in many people who call themselves “Christian.”
- I am convicted that Today's (Truncated) Gospel cannot be faithful the the Great Commission's essential Biblical command to disciple, mentor, train, teach (to obey), reproduce and multiply disciples who to apply the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all of life in order to display the glory and supremacy of God in reaching all peoples with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As one affirmation of faith sums up the proper view of Gospel theology that Dr. Kennedy was committed to by stating:
Our aim is not to discover how little can be believed, but rather to embrace and teach “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Our aim is to encourage a hearty adherence to the Bible, the fullness of its truth, (Titus 1:1; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 1 Timothy 4:1), and the glory of its Author. . . . We believe that the cause of unity in the church (Ephesians 4:4-6) is best served, not by finding the lowest common denominator of doctrine, around which all can gather, but by elevating the value of truth, stating the doctrinal parameters of church or school or mission or ministry, seeking the unity that comes from the truth, and then demonstrating to the world how Christians can love each other (John 13:34-35) across boundaries rather than by removing boundaries. In this way, the importance of truth is served by the existence of doctrinal borders, and unity is served by the way we love others across those borders. (Elders Affirmation of Faith, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN)
I am thankful to God for raising up Dr. D. James Kennedy to be a pastor/theologian in that he helped me to rediscover that preaching the gospel (real evangelism) is not just about getting people “saved,” but entails all of the Christian life, which is what the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is all about.