Why Preachers Remove the Offense of the Cross

In Kevin DeYoung’s interviews with the contributors to his new book, Don’t Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day, Greg Gilbert offers this gem in response to a question on his chapter, “The Gospel: God’s Self-Substitution for Sinners”:

You argue that the heart of the gospel is God’s self-substitution for sinners. Why do you think there is hostility in some quarters to this understanding of the gospel?

I think it must be, finally, because of the very thing Paul said in 1 Corinthians: The message of the cross is always going to be thought by most of the world to be utter foolishness. If you think about it, the gospel of salvation through Jesus cuts against everything we as human beings naturally want to think about ourselves, and about God. We want to think of ourselves as basically good; the gospel tells us we are basically sinful. We want to think we are capable of saving ourselves; the gospel says we are wholly incapable of doing that. We want to think about God as one who forgives but never judges; the gospel tells us that he is so righteous that saving sinners required him to kill his Son.

Now, if you take all that offense that the world feels against the message of the cross, and mix it up with a usually good desire among Christians to make the gospel winsome and attractive to the world, you wind up with a very strong incentive—if you’re not enormously cautious—to leave out or soften the things about the gospel that the world finds most offensive. You begin to shift the center of the gospel away from the cross and onto happier things, in order to help people hear it with less offense. And when that begins to happen, it’s not surprising in the least that one of the first things to go—to get left out or softened beyond recognition and offense—is the offensive message of God’s self-substitution for sinners.


About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

One Response to Why Preachers Remove the Offense of the Cross

  1. Pingback: What Preaching the Gospel Isn’t, and Is « Your Cross on My Back

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