David Cloud, Way of Life For various reasons, Christians of different sorts have tinkered with "the gospel of Christ" as though it needed adjustments. Not major alterations, most will tell you, but just some minor tweaking here and there. The changes often begin by one's declaring that there is no real change involved, simply a shift in emphasis. Yet, no matter what the rationale may be, the end result is being "ashamed of the gospel of Christ."
To be "ashamed of the gospel" covers a number of attitudes from being totally embarrassed by it to thinking one can improve upon it a bit to make it more acceptable. One example of the former is the recent claim by an Emerging Church author that the teaching regarding Christ's paying the full penalty for the sins of mankind through His substitutionary death on the Cross is irrelevant and viewed as "a form of cosmic child abuse." More subtle examples include trying to make the gospel seem less exclusive, and the "softening" of the consequences from which the gospel saves mankind, such as the wrath of God and the Lake of Fire.
Prevalent among many religious leaders who profess to be evangelical Christians (i.e., Bible-believing Christians) is the promotion of a gospel that is acceptable to, and even admired by, people throughout the world. Today, the most popular form of this is the social gospel.
Although the social gospel is common to many new movements among evangelicals, it is not new to Christendom. It had its modern beginning in the late 1800s, when it developed as a way to address the various conditions in society that caused suffering among the populace. The belief was, and is, that Christianity will attract followers when it demonstrates its love for mankind. This could be best accomplished by helping to alleviate the suffering of humanity caused by poverty, disease, oppressive work conditions, society's injustices, civil rights abuses, etc. Those who fostered this movement also believed that relief from their conditions of misery would improve the moral nature of those so deprived.