Of all the many problems sadly facing the modern church the Wishy Washy Gospel is one of the worst offenders. Yet defining what the Wishy Washy Gospel actually is can be hard, working out whether a church preaches such a gospel is tricky and knowing exactly where the Wishy Washy Gospel goes wrong can be difficult.
This is because it is not so much what the WWG says that is a problem it is more what it doesn’t say. So, I can sit under a preacher and agree with almost everything he says and still be heartbroken by the fact that the true gospel isn’t being preached.
As Christians the Bible makes it quite clear that we CANNOT add or take away from the gospel. We have to preach the truth. Not what men want to hear but what they need to hear.
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!”
Galatians 1 v 8 – 9
As you can see from the above verse the Wishy Washy Gospel is an evil gospel. Enough to condemn the men that preach it. For the Wishy Washy Gospel is anything other than the one the Bible proclaims.
So what are the errors of the Wishy Washy Gospel? Where does it go wrong? What is missing?
To misquote Basil Faulty: “Don’t mention sin, I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it,”
This seems to be the prevailing attitude in the modern church that teaches the Wishy Washy Gospel. For the modern church is more concerned about what men think than what God thinks. Telling others they are sinners is never going to go down well. No one likes being told they’re sinners. So some churches don’t.
What is pathetic is that they say they love Jesus yet they do not say as Jesus says:
“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’”
Mark 7 v 21 – 23
This is hardly the only biblical reference to sin. To some up the sheer folly of this approach let me ask a simple question:
“If we do no tell people they are sinners how will they know they need the salvation Jesus has bought?”
If you look at the sermons recorded in the New Testament all of them start off with the fact that people are sinners. Take, as just one example, Peter’s sermon in Acts. His opening line to the people there is:
“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”
Acts 2 v 22 – 23
Peter confronts the Jews with the ultimate sin - putting Jesus Christ, putting God, to death! And in response to his sermon 3000 people believed. Why? Because God convicts people of their sins and leads them to salvation.
If the Wishy Washy Gospel never mentions sin that is doubly never mentions Hell. I guarantee you that if you go to a church that preaches the Wishy Washy Gospel you will hear heaven mentioned many times and hell mentioned not at all.
What lies! What dangerous and terrible lies.
As Jesus says in just one of many teachings about Hell:
“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Matthew 13 v 40 - 43
Yet the Wishy Washy Gospel only tells men what they want to hear not what they have to hear. Hell is offensive it is ignored. But again I ask the question: “If we do not tell people where they are heading to as sinners how will they know that they need to be saved?”
Again in Peter’s sermon he says:
“With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."”
Acts 2 v 40
God’s complete and utter sovereignty over everything
The Wishy Washy Gospel does not preach God as the Bible does. For the Wishy Washy Gospel is like a child, scared of having to deal with the difficult topic (and it is a difficult topic) of God’s sovereignty. Instead they tell of a God constrained by the rebellion of man, limited by ‘free will’, a God who is not in control, a God who is not the God of all things and all people.
But the Wishy Washy Gospel is never that explicit. Instead they just never go that extra mile on this subject. They recognise that God is vaguely in control but not in complete and specific control. However, the Bible does not shy away from this topic:
“And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he [God] doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”
Daniel 4 v 35
“The LORD Almighty has sworn,
"Surely, as I have planned, so it will be,
and as I have purposed, so it will stand.”
Isaiah 14 v 24
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”
John 6 v 37
Read the Psalms, the history of Israel, the Gospels, Paul’s letters, read the Bible and tell me that God isn’t in complete and utter control of everything! From the sparrow that falls to the ground to every sinner that is saved God is in control.
The Wishy Washy Gospel placates it never challenging. It soothes the troubled conscience with false teaching and lying words. And while encouragement is no bad thing a Gospel is not solely based on encouragement.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”
2 Timothy 3 v 16
The Wishy Washy Gospel never rebukes. It cannot for it never mentions sin!
If only the churches that preach this gospel would turn the words of Jesus! If only they truly followed who they profess to love!
“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"
Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? …Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him."
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
John 6 v 60 – 69
After one of Jesus’ most clear teachings on Calvinism many of his disciples left him! Jesus knew this would happen yet preached still. His is the example we need to follow. To preach the truth no matter what. And Peter’s is the answer we need to echo “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Regrettably there is still more left to say on what the Wishy Washy Gospel does not say. I hope you can at least see that the Wishy Washy Gospel is a vile thing. An evil that does not teach the truths of the gospel as they should be taught. By removing all that would cause offense only a bastard gospel remains. A gospel that cannot save, a gospel of men for men rather than a gospel of Christ for sinners.
Paul writes again about men who teach a gospel other than the true on of the Bible and he says:
“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
2 Corinthians 11 v 13 – 15
It is easy to be fooled by the Wishy Washy Gospel, it is easy to preach the Wishy Washy Gospel, it is easy to believe mistake Satan for an angel of light. We need to be wise and discerning and listen to what isn’t said as well as what is.
Above all we need to reject, despise and forsake any gospel other than the one of the Bible. Sin, hell, God’s sovereignty and challenges to be holy are necessary parts of the gospel of the salvation of Jesus Christ. To leave them out is not only madness it is ruin to all who listen and are taken in.