Tim Keller on the temptation to move away from a gospel that deals with individual sin (from the 2007 Gospel Coalition conference):
Why is it we don’t have people living the lives they ought to live? Why do we see people over here culturally withdrawn and being really negative and narrow? “The solution is, let’s change the gospel.” No! But that’s what’s happening.
Almost every month in evangelical publications and publishing houses you’ll see people who say, “The gospel is no longer ‘You’re saved through the blood atonement of Jesus Christ appeasing the wrath of God.’ The gospel is just the kingdom. The gospel is that God is renewing the world, and he’s going to reweave the world in peace and justice. And now you need to join this community and be agents of peace and justice. You need to change your life. You need to be a disciple. It’s both faith and obedience. That’s what connects you to God.”
I can’t imagine with that gospel that anybody’s going to write a hymn that goes like this: “My chains fell off, my heart was free. I rose, went forth, and followed thee.” It’s just not going to happen. It’s actually another kind of legalism.
The problem is that the gospel is individualistic. it is! It does say, “You are an individual sinner. You’ve opposed a holy God. You’ve personally offended him. Here’s the provision for it.”
Keller goes on to explain how the gospel leads to engagement with the culture. If you haven’t listened to this message, it’s worth it. You can find the MP3 here.