The gospel or "good news" of Jesus is so easily confused or distorted. Our Enemy seeks to lead us toward false “gospels.” It’s important to see two errors that are contrary to this gospel, what we can call legalism and relativism or religion and irreligion, and avoid them.
Religion: This gospel distortion makes Christianity a list of rules to follow as an attempt to earn acceptance with God, who is most often seen only as a harsh judge. We perform and God accepts us. On some days, we look at our record and are prideful. On others, we look at what we’ve accomplished and are depressed. Legalism leaves us judgmental and joyless.
Irreligion: This false message teaches that we determine what is wrong and right. God is more like a loving grandfather who accepts whatever we choose to do. Adherents to relativistic religion tend to speak much of tolerance but generally just choose to scorn different groups of people. This, too, moves us from the peace and joy of the gospel.
Tragically, religion (as seen in the chart above) is too often passed off as Christianity. It’s typically what irreligious people so vehemently reject. However, religion or legalism is no gospel at all. The gospel is an entirely different way of thinking. We don’t obey to be accepted. We are accepted; therefore, we obey. Karis Church seeks to stand against these two distortions and proclaim the biblical gospel with joy and conviction.
(this article leans heavily on the teaching of Tim Keller; the graphic originated with The Journey in St. Louis, MO)