From an unexpected quarter comes some help in reflecting on the question, 'What is the gospel?'
A couple of days ago the biggest and most popular ski-field in my province of Canterbury, Mt Hutt, was hit by 200km/h winds and not only had to stop skiing but also close down its access road, resulting in 900 or so people spending an unexpected sleepover in the ski-field cafe! Now the inquest begins, with the question, Given the weather forecast, should the ski-field have opened at all that day?
"It was a big call to close the skifield on a weather forecast as they often proved wrong, [Mt Hutt Ski Area manager Dave Wilson] said.
"We've seen them predict 120kmh winds and it gets to 70, and when you're sitting there in the morning and saying they're predicting that but it's calm now, we could be closing a lot more if we took it as absolute gospel," he said.
MetService chief forecaster Peter Kreft said a severe-gale forecast was the strongest wind level and indicated mean wind speeds of at least 90kmh."
Here gospel is a synonym for 'truth', but it is used in a context of making an important decision with grave consequences (possible financial loss, skier frustration, risk to life). The speaker would not have talked about 'absolute gospel' if asked whether it was true that 2+2=4 or that a cup of coffee in the skifield cafe costs $4.
What is the gospel? The development of the English language has preserved an important part of the answer: the gospel is something true with grave consequences. A significant, non-trivial truth! Even in a post-modern world, 'gospel' naturally draws to its side the word 'absolute.'
More soon ...