But surely, I hear you object, there’s only one gospel?
Well, yes, there is only one actual, true gospel, but there are many false gospels masquerading as truth, often in perfectly respectable churches. Some of them are quite obvious – the health, wealth and prosperity gospel, perhaps, being the most blatant example – while others are much more subtle.
One thing these false gospels all have in common is that those who embrace them do not think of them as gospels at all. Indeed, most churches and Christians who embrace false gospels would very likely agree among themselves that “the gospel” is the message that if you pray the sinner’s prayer and do your best to live a life that honours God, Jesus will save you and you will go to heaven when you die. Most would agree that Jesus is the only way to salvation. However, while most churches may profess that belief, many have functional gospels that are quite different.
You see, I’m using the word gospel here to mean anything that promises life. I think this is justified. We live in a world of death, manifested in many forms: sickness, war, famine, poverty, slavery, relationship breakdown, stress, depression, and so on. In this world of death, “good news” is the word of life.