Our definition of evangelism (from the PCUSA) has both:
- A message to share (“joyfully sharing the good news of the sovereign love of God)
- A destination (“calling people to . . . . . “)
The good news is the gospel. This is what gospel means in its most basic form: “good news.”
However, we have developed a rich theological heritage around that word that gives it a more fuller meaning. As such, we should ask “What is the gospel?”
What is the Gospel?
The evangelism definition here doesn’t contain a mention of sin (though indirectly in the call to action part in “to repentance”).
This week, I’m reading Embracing Grace: A Gospel for All of Us, Scott McKnight. It is subtitled “A Gospel for all of us.”
Scott is a prolific writer at JesusCreed and has a large following on his blog. I had him as a exegesis professor during my studies at Seminary in the 1990s. I’ve commented on him before.
In his introduction he writes that to get a conversation started among his students, he’ll ask the question “What is the gospel?”
He typically receives answers that fall into three categories:
- Jesus came to earth to die for my sins so I can be forgiven and go to heaven to be with God for eternity.
- Jesus came to liberate us from oppression, systemic evil, slavery, so there would be justice and peace.
- Being part of the church.
How does Scott’s answer the question? It takes him the book to develop this:
“The work of God to restore humans to union with God and communion with others, in the context of a community, for the good of others and the world” (Introduction to Embracing Grace: A Gospel for All of Us, xiii).
Scott’s answer goes beyond focus on the love of God and into restoration of covenant community.
In fact, God’s destiny in history is a redeemed community.
Let me ask you this?
How would you define gospel? (I can’t believe I’ve not asked this question here before). I invite your comments.