Definition of a false gospel

I was wondering if anyone in this forum (particularly a Catholic poster) would like to define the term “false gospel”. For example, I am certain that any Catholic could agree with me that Mormonism is a false gospel. What do we mean when we say that?

Defining the gospel positively is a bit difficult. Here is an interesting attempt:
lumengentleman.com/content.asp?file=gospel_kingdom

Any non-Catholic religion is a false gospel. It is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff. Gospels which teach the contrary have no power to save, and hence are false.

A gospel is, I suppose, a system of beliefs which promises salvation to those who accept it. Hence any gospel which did not in fact save would be false. This disqualifies everything except Catholicism.

[quote=Hananiah]Defining the gospel positively is a bit difficult. Here is an interesting attempt:
lumengentleman.com/content.asp?file=gospel_kingdom

Any non-Catholic religion is a false gospel. It is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff. Gospels which teach the contrary have no power to save, and hence are false.
[/quote]

Before I consider that response and it’s companion/follow-up, I’d like to see who agrees with you. Is that fair?

I feel like a nibbling mouse, but I’ll take the bait anyway :slight_smile:

I’ll go the opposite way and define what I believe the “true” gospel is.

That would be Jesus Christ and all that He has revealed, either through His Church (which would include, but not be limited to, Sacred Tradition) or Sacred Scripture. A false gospel would be anything that contradicts this.

[quote=DonaNobisPacem]I feel like a nibbling mouse, but I’ll take the bait anyway :slight_smile:

I’ll go the opposite way and define what I believe the “true” gospel is.

That would be Jesus Christ and all that He has revealed, either through His Church (which would include, but not be limited to, Sacred Tradition) or Sacred Scripture. A false gospel would be anything that contradicts this.
[/quote]

Great. Define Sacred Tradition. Let’s be specific, shall we? Name 5 documents or pronouncements (and perhaps you have more than 5; I’ll take as many as you can list) which would be part of the Sacred Tradition.

I would define “false gospel” as Paul did in Galatians 1. The false gospel or “another gospel” which the apostle talks about is that which is “contrary to the gospel of the apostles.”

THEN the question becomes, how do we know what the apostles’ true gospel is, right? So we can compare it with the many “false gospels” ?

The “gospel” is defined very basically of course in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, as the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ whereby we are “saved”, but in this basic meaning Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, all agree. Do you have something more in mind? Like pressing “justification by faith alone” as the true gospel?

A false gospel could also be defined as something not in accord with “the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), i.e. the entire Catholic faith handed down and defined by the historic Church. So Arianism, Sabellianism, and Gnosticism would all be “false gospels” since the historic Church defined what the true Gospel is in opposition to these. And basically all Christians appeal to this historic Church (the Ecumenical Creeds) as a standard against these false gospels.

Mark Shea has defined Sacred Tradition very simply as “the common doctrine, common worship, and common life of the Church” which I think is a nice short definition. Of course some details can be filled in there.

Phil P

centurion << For example, I am certain that any Catholic could agree with me that Mormonism is a false gospel. >>

And a counter-challenge: why should anyone agree with you that “Mormonism is a false gospel.” Think about this. You must be appealing to something other than the Bible to define the true Gospel. I’m sure you are aware there are plenty of books out there like “biblical Mormonism” written by Mormon apologists.

Mormonism is a false gospel basically because their understanding of the Trinity and Jesus Christ (among other beliefs) is flawed, and we appeal to the historic Church (i.e. the Ecumenical Creeds and Councils who interpret the Bible) as a standard against Mormon doctrine. We do not appeal to the Bible alone as individual interpreters for our “agreement with you that Mormonism is a false gospel.” We (all of us, Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants) appeal to the historic Church.

I am talking of course of those “orthodox” Christians who accept the Trinity and the deity of Christ. I’m not referring to liberal-minded or “modernist” Catholics or Christians who reject these things.

Good to see you here…

Phil P

I like this definition from Frs. Rumble and Carty

Sacred Tradition:
"…the collection of doctrines taught by Christ and the Apostles, but which were not written in the New Testament. They have been written in various ‘Creeds’ and ‘Professions of Faith’ , and are supported by the unanimous consent of the Fathers who lived in the first centuries and knew the Apostolic teaching…Later, and merely human traditions, have nothing to do with this divine tradition, which has been specially safeguarded by the Holy Spirit."

Also, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

#81 “And (Holy) Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of Truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound, and spread it abroad by their preaching.” (Dei Verbum 9)

#83 “…The fist generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New Testament itself demonstrates the process of living tradition.”

[quote=PhilVaz]I would define “false gospel” as Paul did in Galatians 1. The false gospel or “another gospel” which the apostle talks about is that which is “contrary to the gospel of the apostles.”

THEN the question becomes, how do we know what the apostles’ true gospel is, right? So we can compare it with the many “false gospels” ?

The “gospel” is defined very basically of course in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, as the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ whereby we are “saved”, but in this basic meaning Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, all agree. Do you have something more in mind? Like pressing “justification by faith alone” as the true gospel?
[/quote]

I agree that the best method is to define the true Gospel – and then point out that false gospels are the ones which either subtract from the True Gospel or (and this is critical) add to the True Gospel in incompatible ways – as the problem Paul addresses in Galatians clearly points out.

I have to disagree with you, then, on the rest. The Catholics and Orthodox may agree on the meaning of the death, burial and resurrection, but the Protestant understanding of those events – that is, that they are conclusive and complete rather than potential and re-presentable – is not the same. The question is: which more accurately reflects the beliefs of the apostles? Which more accurately reflects the correct meaning of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

The knee-jerk reaction of the Catholic advocate is, of course, to say, “well, we infallibly do. Case closed: welcome to Rome.” :smiley: But I suggest that if we review the contents of Galatians, Paul is not warning about merely-different “gospels” but that there are some in the Galatian church who are actively adding to the Gospel which Paul preached to them. My take on the Galatian false bretheren is that they accepted the idea of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ but then added to it the doctrine of circumcision.

That’s a little different than then scenario you are glossing here – and it is the basis for Protestant objection to Roman theology.

[quote=PhilVaz]A false gospel could also be defined as something not in accord with “the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), i.e. the entire Catholic faith handed down and defined by the historic Church.
[/quote]

Whoa! Slow down, Phil!

It will take a whole thread unto itself to unravel those 35-ish words. You’re saying that every single thing that the RC church today expouses as doctrine was (a-hem) really present in the first-generation church of the Apostles?

I will, in fact, start a new thread on that account. Don’t answer that question here. :thumbsup:

So Arianism, Sabellianism, and Gnosticism would all be “false gospels” since the historic Church defined what the true Gospel is in opposition to these. And basically all Christians appeal to this historic Church (the Ecumenical Creeds) as a standard against these false gospels.

I agree that the creeds are a fallible standard by which to identify the heresies they were composed to refute.

Problematically, all “Christians” (and I’ll use the term as you do, which is the sociological definition of Christian) do not appeal to the creeds to identify all heresies or to refute them. For examples, the Southern Baptist Convention does not appeal to the creeds to define or identify heresy – right or wrong, they do not appeal to creeds to make their essential confessions of faith.

[quote=PhilVaz]Mark Shea has defined Sacred Tradition very simply as “the common doctrine, common worship, and common life of the Church” which I think is a nice short definition. Of course some details can be filled in there.
Phil P
[/quote]

Mark Shea has the problem of not being infallible, and I know personally (we shared a set of 4 e-mails about 5 years ago) that he doesn’t like being reminded of that. If you might cite a source closer to your Home in Rome – that is, a source which you would confess to be infallible and/or inerrant – it might be more useful in furthering your position.

However, the “common doctrine” definition has the following problem: Trent anathematizes Protestant beliefs. There are clear distinctives between Catholicism and Protestantism, and there is a basis for saying that they are not reconcilable – that is, a basis for saying they are inherently in conflict with each other and do not share a “common life”.

I welcome you to fill in the blanks.

Somehow I missed this post from Phil, and I apologize for straggling.

[quote=PhilVaz]centurion << For example, I am certain that any Catholic could agree with me that Mormonism is a false gospel. >>

And a counter-challenge: why should anyone agree with you that “Mormonism is a false gospel.” Think about this. You must be appealing to something other than the Bible to define the true Gospel. I’m sure you are aware there are plenty of books out there like “biblical Mormonism” written by Mormon apologists.
[/quote]

That’s a misdirection, Phil. Perhaps I should have chosen more precise language and said, “While it may be for different reasons, a Catholic could make the affirmation that the Mormon Gospel is a false gospel and I could agree that the Mormon gospel is false.” No one has any obligation to “agree with me” as if I held any kind of authority.

As for books on biblical Mormonism, the term is without any merit. It’s like saying “biblical homosexuality” – the only biblical homosexuality is the homosexuality that is a sin and condemned by God. Mormonism is a corruption of the Bible and a corruption of the faith. You might find the creeds the best short-hand to approach that subject; I think given the Mormon’s perspective that the church fell into apostasy upon the death of John prior to 100 AD, appealing to the creeds is a dead end – they think the creeds come from apostate men.

[quote=PhilVaz]Mormonism is a false gospel basically because their understanding of the Trinity and Jesus Christ (among other beliefs) is flawed, and we appeal to the historic Church (i.e. the Ecumenical Creeds and Councils who interpret the Bible) as a standard against Mormon doctrine. We do not appeal to the Bible alone as individual interpreters for our “agreement with you that Mormonism is a false gospel.” We (all of us, Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants) appeal to the historic Church.
[/quote]

I disagree. The most effective ministers I have ever known in evangelizing the LDS have been Protestants who do not at all appeal to the creeds – for the reasons I cite above.

Does the Protestant agree with the Catholic that the Nicene Creed (as one example) is a faithful confession? Certainly. We might dicker over the term “catholic” as it is found there, but we would agree that it is a fine summary of key beliefs of the faith. But if you pull out the Nicene creed with a Mormon, their eyes will glaze over. The church, in their view, was apostate until Joseph Smith received his vision(s), and only the latter Day Saints have a perfect revelation of who God and Jesus are. The creed is a result of apostate men and apostate beliefs in their view.

[quote=PhilVaz]I am talking of course of those “orthodox” Christians who accept the Trinity and the deity of Christ. I’m not referring to liberal-minded or “modernist” Catholics or Christians who reject these things.
[/quote]

Yeah, the Jesus Seminarians of all stripes are an abomination, too. My brother-in-law is one of those, and it breaks my heart to hear him discuss fellows like Crossan with the kind of reverence I would only use for Paul and James.

That was not my point.

Strands of this thread have been deleted. :eek:

Should I repost my questions for PhilVas, or should I let the sleeping dog lie?

I was looking at the wrong thread!

SORRY PHIL! ARGH! :crying:

This thread seems to have gotten off track.

One good approach is to look at our Nicene Creed, or as some more specifically refer to it: The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.

Some protestants are skeptical of creeds, as watering down the truth or otherwise incomplete. Now that I think about it, the Church really stepped right over the Bible in the Creed, didn’t it?

I think the next Church council should take this up.

Fulton Sheen used to say that a false gospel is anything that takes you away from the Cross. In other words, any sect or psuedo-Christian religion that espouses easy-believism, health and wealth, faith-word, once saved always saved, types of salvation takes us away from the cross.

Mt 10:38 -
and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Mr 8:34 -
And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Lu 9:23 -
And he said to all, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Lu 14:27 -
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Joh 19:17 -
So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Gol’gotha.

1Co 1:17 -
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

1Co 1:18 -
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Ga 6:14 -
But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Php 2:8 -
And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

Php 3:18 -
For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

Heb 12:2 -
looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Paraphrasing the English language translation of Paul’s gospel:
Lord, Master, Savior Jesus [the] Christ, Him crucified, Him raised.

Upon that Idea, everything else rests.

Roland
AmbassadorMan
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