What is the Gospel Coalition?
Question: "What is the Gospel Coalition?"
Answer: The Gospel Coalition (TGC) is a broad collection of churches, church leaders, and Christians originally founded by Tim Keller and D.A. Carson. The organization is distinguished by its emphasis on actively engaging the culture, and it provides an abundant amount of resource materials such as videos, books, and study guides. As the term coalition implies, the Gospel Coalition includes a diversity of Christians from different denominations. Doctrinally, the association is generally aligned with evangelical and Reformed perspectives. Other well-known figures associated with the organization are Erwin Lutzer, Alistair Begg, Albert Mohler, David Platt, John Piper, and Russell Moore.
From a biblical standpoint, the Gospel Coalition affirms the core doctrines of Christian faith. Likewise, they hold to a scriptural understanding of important issues such as salvation, the inerrancy of the Bible, and sexual ethics. The organization is enthusiastically Reformed, and this theme is clearly reflected in their publications and associated members. The Gospel Coalition rejects common modern heresies such as the prosperity gospel. On cultural issues such as styles of music, the Gospel Coalition is neutral. Some of the Gospel Coalition’s stances, however, have invited criticism or concern. Among those are neutrality with respect to certain Charismatic doctrines and covenant or kingdom theology, and their approach to some social issues.
The Gospel Coalition seems equally open to both continuationist and cessationist perspectives on the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. This has invited concerns from some conservative evangelicals, many of whom see it as being in tension with the sufficiency of the Bible. Some interpretations of continuationism and Pentecostalism suggest that special revelation can be given by God apart from the Bible.
Socially, the Gospel Coalition strongly advocates that Christians subscribe to an “in the world, not of the world” approach. In the group’s founding documents, they claim “believers should neither withdraw into seclusion from the world, nor become indistinguishable from it.” Major Gospel Coalition figures such as Tim Keller have indicated their intent is to avoid either of two extremes: spite for the poor or a socialized gospel. This has invited criticism from both conservative and liberal commentators.
Undoubtedly, the impact of Christianity on society is a major point of emphasis in the Gospel Coalition. A common criticism from evangelicals is that the Gospel Coalition takes up social change as a primary purpose of the gospel, as opposed to a means by which the gospel is shared. In other words, according to some detractors, the Gospel Coalition considers social progress a part of—indeed, a purpose of—the gospel itself.
At times, this approach has involved use of the phrase social justice, which invites significant controversy due to its connection with progressive secular politics. On this point, more so than any other, the Gospel Coalition experiences criticism and controversy. In the opinion of some, their view is balanced and reasonable according to Scripture. Others feel the Gospel Coalition is drifting too far toward a politically or racially charged stance that is more grounded in cultural trends than in core truths.
Related to social issues is the Gospel Coalition’s approach to the fundamental role of Christians in the world. Complicating those positions is the fact that the Gospel Coalition associates with a relatively broad range of views. There are speakers, resources, and leaders connected to the Gospel Coalition that one could reference in support of dispensationalism or covenant theology or kingdom theology. These views have disparate implications for how the church interacts with government, culture, and society.
Overall, the Gospel Coalition adheres to a biblical, doctrinally sound approach to faith, spirituality, and morality. As a large and diverse group, it’s all but guaranteed that something the Gospel Coalition “tolerates” will be a point of disagreement for some believer, somewhere. However, on the most important and impactful issues, the Gospel Coalition appears to be a reliable and reasonable source of information. What seems to be a trend toward “socializing” the gospel, tying it to secular progressive concerns, is something the Gospel Coalition should be wary of. Likewise, it’s a point on which believers ought to be cautious when reading or passing along the Gospel Coalition materials.
The need for caution is not especially unique. Christians are obligated to be cautiously skeptical (Acts 17:11), and that applies no more or less to groups such as the Gospel Coalition (1 John 4:1).
Recommended Resource: The Gospel Coalition
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What is the Gospel Coalition?