The Gospel Coalition starts with European branch


Western Europe

Klaas van der Zwaag, RD

The Gospel Coalition logo. Photo The Gospel Coalition

The Gospel Coalition (TGC) is gaining a foothold in Europe. The movement focused on a “Gospel-centric” theology, will therefore develop a European branch. A new organisation is under construction, says Dr Kees van Kralingen, board member of TGC Netherlands & Flanders.

On May 18th, a webinar took place with New Testament scholar Dr D. A. Carson, who together with Tim Keller in 2005 stood at the cradle of The Gospel Coalition in the United States.

TGC Netherlands & Flanders was founded in 2019 and focused on “the innovative impact of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in church and society in the Netherlands and Flanders.” The board consists of Dr William den Boer (chairman), Dr Van Kralingen (secretary) and Rev Marco de Wilde.

TGC Nederland organises a conference in September. On that occasion, Collin Hansen will speak. He is the author of “Young, Restless, Reformed” (2008), the first description of the so-called “New Calvinists” and their growing flock among young people. Also speaking is Tim Savage, one of the first members of TGC in America. He lives in Cambridge and is the coordinator of establishing a European network of TGC.

Europe more fragmented

TGC is growing in Europe, says Van Kralingen. “That process has been going on for two years, but now we want to set up an umbrella to coordinate the work better. Several branches have already developed in France, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Slovakia and Albania, among others, and South-Eastern Europe and Scandinavia will soon be added, while Evangelium21 in Germany is also closely related to this.”

How do you translate the work of TGC to Europe? “The situation in Europe is substantially different from that in America. Europe is more secularised than America, where there is more awareness of God and the Christian faith. Moreover, the situation in Europe is also more fragmented than in America. In Eastern Europe, you have the influence of the Orthodox Church; in Southern Europe, the impact of Roman Catholicism. We are in the process of reflecting on all these different challenges.”

Meeting of The Gospel Coalition in Indianapolis in 2019. Photo RD

Carson stressed Monday night from America that TGC is not an “American organisation” with various ramifications elsewhere. “Each country has its own leaders and makes its own trade-offs. The Gospel Coalition is primarily a young movement: two-thirds are under 40, which is promising for the future. Some four million people visit our website every year in 15 languages, including Arabic, and that number is still growing.”

Christ Victor

The doctrine of atonement through fulfilment is under pressure, even in Evangelical circles, Van Kralingen recalled, favouring “Christ Victor”: Christ Who conquers that power of sin and death. Carson preferred not to be forced to choose. “Christ bore the penalty for sin by His vicarious suffering and death. He has conquered the powers of sin and death and is thus a moral example for believers. However, if we start with Christ as an example, we lose the heart of the atonement.”

There is personal guilt and judgment involved, Carson said. “We are under the power of sin. God meets us in judgment and love; in wrath for sin and love for our salvation; and both those elements come together in the cross.” Carson further emphasised that our thinking and faith are stamped by culture. “The Gospel in itself is not negotiable. It is about the one Gospel that has been handed down to the saints once and for all. But at the same time, we can transmit and communicate its truth from culture to culture.”

This article was published previously in the Dutch Daily Reformatorisch Dagblad on May 18th 2021.