“The gospel is simple.”

I can’t say how many times I’ve heard that phrase. And for most of my life, whenever I did, I gave the ol’ Sunday-school-head-nod. Of course it is. The world is loud and wicked and convoluted, but the gospel? The gospel is a beacon of simple truths.

Really?!?

Now, one may be able to distill “the gospel” down to a handful of bullet points on the salvation laundry list, but each concept needs a significant amount of contextual information to make any sense to an outside observer.

As a missionary, I realized even the most basic explanation of “the gospel” becomes pretty complex by the time I’d finished explaining the pattern of restoration and apostasy since the time of Adam and talked about the latest restoration of Christ’s church that you can know for yourself is real by reading this book that was translated by the prophet responsible for the restoration by the power of God so you can receive an authorized baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost and go to the temple and make covenants and be sealed and live with your family forever. 1

I mean, that’s simple. Really?

For me, the most baffling thing about the sentiment that the gospel is simple is what usually follows: “It’s Satan who makes it seem complicated.”

Really?

I know he’s crafty, but really, I don’t think Satan, on his best day, could come up with anything as complicated and contextually bound as what the missionaries attempt to lay out in the first lesson. Really.

The frustration I have felt hearing countless affirmations of the simplicity of the gospel’s, and Satan’s (read: intellectuals, feminists, and homosexuals, really) complicating influence inspired this video. I wanted to do something that demonstrated the absurd irony of calling the gospel simple:

My questions for readers:

  1. Why (or why not) is “simplicity” important to religions such as Mormonism?
  2. Do all religions need a mountain of contextual information in order to make sense?
  3. If you think the gospel IS simple, how do you define it?
  4. Can a “simple” gospel be effective? What are the benefits/disadvantages to a “simple” gospel?
  5. What factors make the gospel more complicated than it needs to be? Because we’re making this more complicated than it has to be. Really.

I hope these are useful starting points for discussion. 2

Notes:

  1. Really, there are at least 100 words in that sentence
  2. Infants on Thrones also did a podcast and panel discussion on the video (panel discussion begins at 13:15).