In light of the conversation that prompted yesterday’s post, I started musing on the definition of ‘gospel’ and finding a way to state it simply. Of course, that gets us back to defining ‘gospel.’
By gospel, I don’t mean a written account of the life of Jesus, be it orthodox or not, as in “the gospel of …”
I’m referring to what people mean when they capitalize it – Gospel – good news – THE Good News. But even that gets debated to death. Too often it is reduced to either justification or atonement (penal substitutionary atonement, in particular), but that limits the scope.
Given that start my theological musings with “it’s all about Jesus,” I want to come up with a simple sentence that expresses and proclaims this Good News so it can be understood, yet leaves room to go in-depth and discuss it. A few of us got a start on it yesterday on Google+, and the ideas of kingdom and reconciliation quickly rose to importance.
Then today, another Twitter friend (@thinking_reed) linked to this Christian Century piece on expressing the gospel in seven words. I don’t necessarily want to reduce the gospel to seven words, but I would like to be able to say it in a short sentence.
So what elements do I need present?
- God’s kingdom has arrived.
- Jesus of Nazareth is the king.
- Expressed through repentance and faith, we are members of this kingdom because of the work of Jesus.
This should include everything necessary. Jesus went around proclaiming the good news that the kingdom of God is here. Jesus justifies us, and we receive this justification by believing him. Jesus atones for our sins on the cross. Nothing we do earns our way into God’s kingdom. It all comes from Jesus. Though we are (and always were) broken, we are reconciled by the actions of Jesus.
More can be said, to be sure, but that begins the long walk down theology lane. One simple sentence is the goal. I’ll find my own way to express it (as should we all – it’s a good exercise), but I must confess I like the words of Will Campbell in the Christian Century piece:
“We’re all bastards but God loves us anyway.”