No Coercion in the Gospel: 1978 Book Outline

John C. Rankin

In my January 27, 2014 article on my blog,, I write about a church my wife and I left on January 10, 1978 — one that was led by a prima donna who had perfected the art of coercion.

Being happily free from such a death camp, I enrolled at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary the following fall, and the prior summer I outlined and started writing a book, No Coercion in the Gospel. It only progressed for 17 pages, as my educational priorities took over, but it represented a seed in my theological priority for learning the biblical nature of freedom. Here is that outline at the beginning of my journey in writing biblical theology, at the age of 24.

No Coercion in the Gospel


  1. No need for coercion — setting forth of basic premises.
  2. The radical approach — God’s non-coercive approach v. Satan’s coerciveness . What it means to be radical, what the Gospel is, and why it seeks adherents.
  3. Choice: a gift from God — choice granted from the beginning, and God knew that man would rebel. Choice remains after the fall. Eternality of God’s sovereignty alongside man’s finite perspective of choice.
  4. Coercion: an implant from Satan — the fall of man. Found opportunity to work through the Law. Satan’s strategy to the end.
  5. Coercive approach — define w/details — means employed by false religion & cults to gain adherents.
  6. Insecurity of falsehood — various self-acclaimed prophets announce, laud and puff themselves up in the act of self-persuasion. Historical and contemporary examples showing their insecurity.
  7. The man Jesus — contrast to those in chapter 6. He knew who he was, did not force himself upon the scene, avoided publicity when possible, suffering servant, coerced no one, gave his life; example and teachings.
  8. God has no grandchildren — why do you believe? Second-hand faith v. first-hand faith = true belief v. insufficient belief. Nature of true belief.
  9. From within — coercive means used in church. Examine why and draw parallels to coercion of false religion. Coercive leaders and their tactics; misguided and/or false? God’s perspective. Coercion v. conviction vis-a-vis doctrine: from legalism of some fundamentalists to experientialism of some charismatics, and the broad scope in between. Group standards of conformity in the church v. biblical norms.
  10. In his steps — qualifications for Christian leadership. Authority and servanthood. Means of enforcing pastoral authority = bottom line trust in sovereignty of Spirit’s work in others, self, church, world. Get free from the numbers game.
  11. Handling God’s money — giving and receiving. Examine right and wrong techniques of fund raising in the church, including aspects of tithing.
  12. Radical alternative — our response, call to true discipleship. Exegesis of Psalm 110.
  13. The return — the suffering servant to return as reigning King; healing in his wings, judgment from the throne. Judgment is not God’s coercion, hell is not designed for man, but sin is sin and will be finally dealt with.