Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | February 6, 2008

Defending the Gospel

The Surprising God blog has posted a link to an amazing article in defense of the gospel. It’s called “Reconsidering the Non-Negotiables” by Christian Smith and Douglas Campbell.

I really encourage you to follow the link below to the article and read it. It is an amazing and simple defense of the gospel against the theology of separation and self-salvation.

The article, which appeared recently in the Journal of Student Ministries, is a defense of the guy I mentioned last Thursday (see Hopeful Signs) who was forced out of the para-church ministry Young Life because he could no longer support a separation theology.

Click here to follow the link from The Surprising God to the article.



  1. I’ve read a lot of opinions on this topic and most of those who have arguments agains the non-negotiables have taken quotes completely out of context. Just check out Tony Jones’ blog. He completely and utterly misrepresented the document, saying YL wants kids to “stew in their depravity”. That statement is completely false, but he didn’t make any apologies.

    Then I read the article that is linked here. I haven’t read the whole thing, because I get too frustrated by the same old thing.

    Take for instance the last paragraph on page 26(continued on page 27). They use a quote that begins “The Scriptures speak of repentance…” Then make the outlandish claim (in quotes I might add) that says “Young Life gospel proclamations now must take the form, ‘Repent and then you will be saved.”

    That’s completely false. Just take a look at the actual context. The document says in fact that repentence is not the reason for salvation and that our adoption and salvation are located outside a chronological time.

    Look for yourself…

    We affirm that it is God’s grace that saves us through what He accomplished on the cross. Faith
    is a gift from God and a response to God’s activity in our lives. Our response of repentance is
    only evidence of our change of heart, not the reason for our salvation. Yet the Scriptures speak of repentance as inseparable from our appropriation of the Gospel message.
    We believe that only in responding in faith and repentance can Jesus’ removal of sin and
    imparting of life begin.
    We are clear to declare that we are inviting our friends to respond to a person not a religion and
    not to a concept or an idea. This is all about an invitation to respond to a person, the Living
    As Paul states in Ephesians 1, we affirm that our adoption and our salvation are located outside
    of chronological time. But we also affirm that the Scriptures teach that people must respond to
    and embrace the Gospel in order to be saved. We invite our adolescent friends to make a
    “decision” or a “commitment” to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, to confess Him as Lord and to
    follow Him. We do this in a thoughtful, non-manipulative invitation to respond to what they
    have heard and to what God is doing in their hearts. We do not allow an environment to be
    created where kids feel pressured to respond or ostracized if they do not. Still, we provide the
    opportunity for a public proclamation of faith.

    It seems to me, Young Life is being inclusive in the sense that they are saying this is true, but so is this, because God is so big that 2 seemingly opposing thoughts can actually be true. It’s those who are critical of this document who are being one sided. Please read the document in it’s entirety and don’t rely on others to interpret it for you.

  2. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for reading and for posting more information about the context in which the article “Reconsidering the Non-Negotiables” was written.

    I appreciate the information, but the reason I posted the link was for the theology the article contained, not for what it did or didn’t say about Young Life or the controversy.

  3. Chris, I echoe what Jonathan says about the article “Reconsidering the Non-Negotiables.” We are not privvy to all the background related to the parting of Jeff McSwain from Young Life and so there is no statement on my part about that process.

    What does get my attention, however, is the increasing awareness that there is a distinct deficit in the traditional presentation of the gospel in conservative, modern evangelical circles. In our desire to be clear and direct in presenting the gospel it may be that we’ve altered it and stripped if of much important truth and therefore much of its power.

    It’s an important and relevant discussion and as it happens the Young Life situation has served to make this issue a bit more public. We need no vilify Young Life or McSwain. But let us be appropriately critical of how the gospel is presented.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: