Christ and THE Gospel

God floored me tonight in the opening verses of the Apostle Paul's letter to the Galatian church. My jaw literally dropped. Read with me:

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel" (Gal 1:6, ESV).

Do you understand what Paul is saying? I don't mean in any way to condescend, as if the meaning isn't explicit. Paul, here, equates "turning to a different gospel" with "deserting him who called you" (God), in that order. A different gospel. Of course, he clarifies in v. 7 that there is no other gospel, truly. But get what he's saying. Knowing the Gospel is tantamount to knowing Christ. It's got to be the right Gospel, that is, the only true Gospel. At least insofar as this doctrine is concerned, one cannot be anything but orthodox without literally deserting Christ. But doesn't this suppose the existence of one true, orthodox Gospel? Are we up a creek without a paddle? Do we know what this Gospel is? If so, how do we know our Gospel is the orthodox Gospel, that is, the Gospel to which Paul is here referring? We must know. It is not optional, unless we don't mind deserting Christ. I don't know about you, but I mind.

The facts are in: belief in the one true Gospel of Jesus Christ is not optional for the Christian. It must be known, which presupposes either that it can be known or that God has imposed an impossible demand on us. I guess your answer depends on how you view God. I, for one, believe in God's providential love, so I must believe the former.

Now I leave you with the question. Don't leave me hanging. What is this true Gospel to which Paul is referring? Do some homework, and get back to me. Try to cite a source, say, at least as early as the 16th century. 2nd or 3rd c. would be ideal.

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