The asterisk* (*except of course) Gospel


Comment, add, subtract, clarify, refigure if it would enhance what you see me trying to say here!
Would love your comments!

God’s magnificent intervention on behalf of sinners and against sin, through His Son Jesus, the Christ, is called The Good News by we Christians. The Gospel! Rich scriptural images of the far reaching effects of this Good News are numerous.

Families - fathers and sons - being reconciled; Love never failing; Reconciliation being effected for all; Destruction of sin and death through Jesus; Return to the blessed state of oneness with God; Redemption of the entire creation in all it’s vastness; Nothing short of Total Victory by God. And these images of the Gospel are matter-of-fact. Thorough, complete, vast, comprehensive, all inclusive, full.

For a great many Christians however, the Gospel is more restrained, limited, and constrained. Tenuous even. It is restricted by any number of clauses and qualifications and exceptions. What might seem at first glance to be transparently positive in fact then, for these people, becomes opaque, vague, and insufficient. It’s good news only “if”… The goodness of the news thus rests entirely on my response to it.

I would like to propose that we call this version of the Gospel the “asterisk(*) Gospel”. It could also be called the “except of course” Gospel, but the “asterisk Gospel” seems slightly more concise. This Gospel version takes plainly positive statements and waters them down with vagueness and uncertainty and exceptions. Fine print – apparently unnoticed and unread by the more exuberant versions of Gospel (which is to say that of Universalists) – negating and muting what had first seemed perfectly clear and straightforward and wonderfully welcome. Good news is thus morphed into merely pretty good news, or sorta good news; good news “lite”.

Here’s how the asterisk* Gospel works…

– The Good News is that God, through Christ, (this is Colossians 1) has reconciled ALL things to Himself*
(*except of course those things which refuse to be reconciled; like maybe particularly nasty and stubborn sinners…)

– The Good News is that Love, (this is 1 Corinthians 13) the very defining virtue of God and embodied in it’s infinite fullness in Jesus, never fails*
(*except of course for those unfortunate ones for whom love does fail… you know, the “lost”…)

– The Good News is that In Christ, (this is 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 5) ALL will be made alive*
(*except of course those for whom this is not true…)

– The Good News is that at the Cross, (this is also in 1 Corinthians 15) God won the Victory over sin and death for all time*
(*except of course for those unfortunate victims for whom sin and death remain an actuality…)

– The Good News, is that as a result of God being “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28) there will come a day when EVERY knee will Bow – and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!*
(*except of course those are knees and tongues that have been forced to do this…)

– The Good News is that nothing – nothing! – can separate us (this is Romans 8) from the Love of God*
(*except of course you; you can separate yourself from the Love of God and you can do it forever…)

Two millennia after the announcement of Good News to all mankind, isn’t it high time we rid ourselves of the asterisks that attenuate and neuter the Good News and start sharing the true beauty and completeness of what is, for ALL men, truly Great News? The Goodness of the News is not modified or diminished one bit by the recalcitrance or stubbornness of created minds. Rather, it’s Goodness rests fully, and completely in the very person and character of The Redeeming Savior God. And that Goodness will, in time, sweep all up in it’s redemptive reality and the entire creation shall actually experience Reconciliation with God. (May that blessed day be hastened!)



I really like this essay but I’ll try to give some constructive feedback, although English, grammar, spelling, etc. aren’t my strongest points :slight_smile:

]I had to read “which is to say that of” (4th paragraph) twice to understand what you meant./]
]Should “waters them down with vagueness and uncertainty and exceptions” be “waters them down with vagueness, uncertainty and exceptions” ?/]
]Should “seemed perfectly clear and straightforward and wonderfully welcome” be " seemed perfectly clear, straightforward and wonderfully welcome" ?/]
]“The Good News is that In Christ” should that be a lowercase “i” in “In”?/]
]“the Victory over sin and death for all time” maybe add another “all” for emphasis e.g. “the Victory over all sin and death for all time”/]
]I obvious agree with what you as saying about 1 Cor 15:28, I’m just wondering if you can make the point stronger somehow. I think one of the parallel or source passages uses “swear allegiance to” or “praise”?? Or maybe mentioning that if it’s not voluntarily, God’s missing out on people worshiping with all their hearts, minds & bodies (no that He needs it, but that He deserves 100% from all creation, not just some forced lip service)?/]
]The only other thing that might be worth mentioning is: "-- The Good News is that God loves you and wants what’s best for you
(* unfortunately that doesn’t necessarily extend to anyone else that you care about e.g. children, family, loved ones may end up being sent to hell) Needs rewording but I hope you get my point (well Talbott’s really)/*]


TV, your ideas are along the same vain as some of my thoughts lately. I recently heard Christians arguing that the reason God has mercy on Paul is because he wasn’t really that bad since he was convinced he was doing right, murdering Christians. They say God has grace on him because he was really a righteous guy, just in need of a little correction. But this doesn’t coincide at all with Paul’s version of the story. His story is I was “the worst of sinners.” He leaves no room for us to think that the reason God is able to save him, or has mercy on him in the first place, is because of some already present redeeming quality. In pointing out he was the worst, but God had mercy he is emphasizing how wonderful the grace of God is to save. It’s like he’s saying if God can save me, he can save you too. And doesn’t it make sense that if God saves the worst of sinners this should be a big reason to hope we all are reconciled? But a las, just as you say, people find countless ways to limit the effectiveness of his grace and, instead of rejoicing in God’s ability to save - just how wide and wonderful it really is - they do the opposite, think of reasons as to why God was able to save Paul, because of something Paul was, instead of what God was to him. The good news seems to be that God shows grace/mercy to the completely undeserving and is faithful to save even them. When I think about it, there are tons of way in which God, in the bible, is saying, “It’s my grace, it’s my grace, I’m doing it” and the temptation is to think he can’t, that he requires our assistance to make it happen. God must think we are ridiculous at times when we think he was only able to rescue us because there was something good in us, instead of him. This reasoning takes away from the truth that God is ultimately responsible, the one to be given credit for our salvation, not ourselves. We may come to love God, but it won’t be because of something special about us, it’ll be because of the specialness of God and the goodness we see in Him that draws us. No one no one can come unless the father draws him. It’s just another way of saying God’s grace is sufficient.


Thanks TV, I’m loving this. In my sermons I am getting braver and more consistent in challenging the “bad news” gospel. Your approach here is really helpful.