Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Viral Gospel

posted by Scot McKnight

ViralHope.jpgOne would think the one thing we could all agree on is the meaning of the word “gospel.” Not so, but there is a vibrant and viral discussion about gospel that is shedding light and leading us forward in profoundly important ways.

When I saw that JR Woodward was offering his blog readers to articulate how the gospel is to be expressed in their (very) local context, I was all ears — and I chose not to speak up because I wanted to listen to how folks responded. Then JR decided the responses were worthy of publication, and then he asked me to write a foreword … so I’m biased here. The book is called ViralHope: Good News from the Urbs to the Burbs (and Everything in Between)
, and I consider the book a really good read if one wants to hear the current discussion about the gospel. There are fifty brief studies on the gospel, and each is connected to the author’s local community. We’ve got David Fitch’s essay on the suburbs and Christine Sine’s for Seattle. 
There are two consensus points I see in these discussions about gospel and one incredible problem.
1. The old fire insurance gospel that God sent his Son to die in my place so I could be forgiven and go to heaven when I die is now the target of frequent criticism. Not only can it not be squared with how Jesus connects “gospel” to kingdom, the reduction just isn’t robust enough to lead us into the heart of the Bible. These studies touch on this problem.
2. The other consensus is that the word “gospel” must, must, must be connected to the word “kingdom.” Sketching what kingdom means in our world in light of all it meant in Jesus’ world is not easy, nor is it easy to connect “kingdom” with Paul’s gospel. But, the current trend is to make sure kingdom become central.
Do you think these two points represent a consensus today? Is there a danger in a lopsided response? Where does one “begin” to explain the gospel?

Before I get to the major problem I am seeing today, let me point to a minor problem: the old fire insurance gospel was a reduction of the gospel to personal escape from hell. The kingdom gospel carries its own danger of reduction: kingdom gets defined by “justice” and justice becomes just what we Westerns want it to mean: liberty and equality and rights. To be sure, as the old fire insurance stuff took something true — final judgment — and elevated it to central importance, so the kingdom gospel proponents struggle to avoid the same problem — taking the theme of justice and giving it too much importance.
3. Which leads to the major problem: How do you preach the gospel, or how do you evangelize, when the gospel becomes a kingdom gospel? The shift from #1 above to #2 has left a gaping hole in how to “present” the gospel, and I am suggesting that the mode of presentation has been so connected to #1 that the shift to #2 leads to an entirely new mode of presentation.
What do you think?


Advertisement
Comments read comments(46)
post a comment
Matt Edwards

posted May 18, 2010 at 2:46 am


One of the things that I have been thinking about recently is how much of our soteriology is retrospective versus prospective. It may be true that I am a hopeless sinner unable to save myself by good works, but is realizing that the starting point of faith or something that I realize later, after I have become a Christian?
I tend to preach a minimalist Gospel–that the world is not as it should be, that God is redeeming it through the death and resurrection of Jesus, and that Jesus wants us to follow him.



report abuse
 

Andrew Perriman

posted May 18, 2010 at 6:47 am


Scott, I agree that the emphasis on kingdom merely shifts the theological problem ? I don’t think ‘kingdom’ simply equates with ‘social justice’ any more than ‘gospel’ equates with ‘offer of personal salvation’. But if the ‘good news of the kingdom of God’ is good news about what God has done or is doing or is about to do, then there should be plenty of scope for presenting it as a profound challenge to individuals, communities and cultures. The issue is then whether we are willing to speak confidently and credibly, from experience or from history, about the decisive intervention of the creator God.



report abuse
 

John W Frye

posted May 18, 2010 at 8:11 am


When the gospel (insurance or justice) became a thing itself apart from a robust, redeemed community, the church lost its integrity and became the Amway personnel for Jesus. Paul writes that the Corinthians were “a letter from (of) Christ read by everyone.” The robust kingdom gospel *cannot* be separated from the community that lives and tells it. A weakness of segments in USAmerican evangelicalism is the fascination with and mimicking of the culture. “Become a Christian, it will make you a happy, materialistic American.”



report abuse
 

derek leman

posted May 18, 2010 at 8:21 am


A few thoughts:
(1) most non-religious people won’t know what kingdom means. I prefer “the world to come.”
(2) Gospel likely meant talking about who Jesus is and what he did.
(3) Our presentations likely now have more variety than before, but should involve the idea of God healing and redeeming all things including the brokenness and sin of people, the identity and power of Jesus as the divine-man-redeemer, and our part in joining with God in the work of healing/redeeming.
Derek Leman



report abuse
 

derek leman

posted May 18, 2010 at 8:23 am


I should rush to add that “joining God in the work of healing/redeeming” is joining the community (congregation of Messiah) which means getting involved with an actual, tangible church or congregation.
Derek Leman



report abuse
 

Scott Eaton

posted May 18, 2010 at 9:07 am


When embracing a “robust gospel” it is a bit more challenging to “present it.” Like John Frye said, so much of what we do is like selling insurance or Amway. Two books (both published by IVP) have helped me on this front:
1. True Story by James Choung. It has weaknesses and I think you could strengthen his concept in a few places, but he does a good job summarizing a more robust gospel and utilizing the Bible’s Story. His explanation that the gospel restores our relationship with God, other people, and the world reminded me of many things I’ve heard Scot say and particularly much of what is explained in Embracing Grace.
2. I Once Was Lost by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp. This book helped me understand the “path” people take before they cross the threshold of the Kingdom and faith in Jesus. Very helpful.



report abuse
 

paul

posted May 18, 2010 at 9:21 am


In order to present a kingdom gospel, i think you the following may be needed
- focus on the story of God throughout history (as presented in the bible). the kingdom fits into the story, so you need to know the story
- more time: while it is possible to present shortened versions of the story succinctly (#5 Scott Eaton mentioned James Choung) i think we should also be ready to have more prolonged conversations with people to discuss what God is really doing in this world
- and as John Frye said, this means our lives (as a community) need to therefore reflect a connection to the story we are trying to tell



report abuse
 

Jeff Doles

posted May 18, 2010 at 10:13 am


When I was in Bible college (over three decades ago now), we were taught the “fire escape” gospel. We prided ourselves as being among the few who preached a “clear” gospel and even developed a handy-dandy presentation to get people saved in just a few minutes. As with much of Protestant evangelism, it was a gospel concerned with the particulars of justification (what it is and how it is achieved) as it was framed by the Reformers in the 16th century. Even more so — we had our own particular take on it. “Trust Christ as your Savior” was our watchword, and we were careful not to mix that up with “Lordship salvation” — receiving Jesus as Lord was not a matter of salvation but of discipleship.
But over the years, I have come to see that the gospel is about much more than that. It IS about the kingdom of God — not limited to the conservative concerns of right-ward leaning Christians, nor to “social justice” (that ever malleable term of the left) — the rule and reign of God that has already broken into the world in the person of King Jesus the Messiah. It is the will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven, just as He taught the disciples to pray.
Mark calls it the “gospel of the kingdom” and it is what Jesus Himself preached (Mark 1:14-15). Paul calls it the “gospel of God” (Romans 1:1) and it has to do with Jesus — the seed of David whom God raised from the dead and declare to be the Son of God (Romans 1:2-4). IOW, Jesus is the promised Messiah King. The “gospel of God” is the “gospel of the kingdom.” It is the gospel to which all nations are called to obey (Romans 1:5 cf. Matthew 28:18-2; Mark 16:15ff and Acts 1:6-8). It is this gospel that Paul refers to in Romans 1:16, the power of God for “salvation” (another term that has much broader meaning than I was originally taught). The confession that saves, according to Paul, is the one he gives in Romans 10:8-10: Jesus is LORD (not just one’s personal master, but God and King over all) and God has raised Him from the dead.
The Resurrection shows that the kingdom has truly come into the world to stay. The Ascension to the throne at the right hand of the Father shows that Jesus now rules and reigns over all. Pentecost shows that His body and bride, the Church, is now empowered to manifest His rule and reign on earth.
When Jesus preached this gospel, it was accompanied by healing the sick and delivering those oppressed by the devil as manifestations of the kingdom. When He sent out His disciples, it was to preach the kingdom, heal the sick and cast out demons. Before He ascended to heaven, Jesus commissioned the disciples with the authority to preach the gospel — to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to observe everything Jesus had taught them (Matthew 28:18-20). At Pentecost, they were baptized with the Holy Spirit and power (just as Jesus was; Acts 10:38) to be a “witness,” to bring evidence about who Jesus is. So they went preaching the gospel of the King, healing the sick and casting out demons.
I don’t mean to be alliterative, but we are to preach the person of the King, not the politics of left or right; the gospel is manifest through the power of Pentecost, not political partisanship.



report abuse
 

Brianmpei

posted May 18, 2010 at 10:31 am


Great post and a good sign that people can engage in the discussion without freaking out. Not that long ago I read an interview by a Christian publication of a conference speaker who couldn’t (or likely wouldn’t) give them a definition of the gospel in a sentence. The conclusion was that this indicated they’d lost their faith or their marbles.
It can only be a good thing that we change how we present the gospel. Would it be crazy to say that we actually get back to beginning and present it by being the Kingdom of God by demonstrating the truth and the Spirit in the way we live and love wherever we find ourselves? Maybe Jesus was really serious when he said they’d know we are followers by our love for each other and maybe he really meant it when he called us not to come forward at the end of a crusade but to follow our whole lives?



report abuse
 

Chris

posted May 18, 2010 at 10:57 am


I am so encouraged to be reading this, thrilled to read that this view of the Gospel is spreading and taking root. It was reading The Divine Conspiracy (Willard) and Surprised by Hope (Wright) that opened my eyes to this.
I think that another risk we run with the Gospel is that we can turn it into something that appeals to our selfishness. This Kingdom which is being ushered in will, when Jesus returns, have in it no pain, suffering, sickness, hunger, jealousy, pride, etc. It’s easy to think about all of the great things we’ll experience and wind up painting a picture which wouldn’t change much if Jesus were removed from it, and yet Jesus is the point.



report abuse
 

Dan

posted May 18, 2010 at 11:02 am


Here’s how I preach “The Gospel” these days,
There’s Good News, God loves you and your community and has a perfect plan for you – now and for eternity.
I’m not smart enough to say anything more. And ohhhh, it’s unbelievable that we could ever separate the “Good News” from the Kingdom.



report abuse
 

T

posted May 18, 2010 at 11:12 am


I agree with the two points. Several of the comments point to viable ways to “begin” to explain the gospel. I love Jeff Doles’ longer (but still brief) summary.
The typical way to “begin” with the gospel is with the problem the gospel purportedly addresses. In the “escaping judgment” gospel, this usually meant focusing on the would-be convert’s personal sin/legal guilt under God’s law. I personally believe (and agree with Scot) that this is the first place we can make great strides toward presenting the gospel of Jesus more accurately and fully, and in a way that integrates “kingdom” with cross. Scot’s 4 “cracks” that he’s discussed here before are a good place to begin as a fuller picture of “the problem.” Or look at what Jesus did and said–he was all about fixing the cracks. I usually add our sense of vocation to the list of “cracked” things in the world.
I think most people can look out at the world and admit that despite its beauty, there are flaws, flaws in motion, and with serious consequences. It’s not a big jump from there to admit the same about ourselves (though it is generally harder for those already rich in one way or another). However we phrase it, I think this is a good working grasp of what the scriptures call the kingdom or reign of darkness or of sin or of the evil one on the earth. Jesus, led by the Father, comes to end this reign on the earth, to destroy the works of the devil and their effects through the power of the Spirit, and leads a counter-kingdom toward full peace and functionality.
There is, of course, a lot more to the “how” God does this, but in terms of beginning the good news about Christ, why do we try to start with the cross and resurrection instead of climaxing with it as the “how?” I think the gospels tell the story the right way (as if they need my approval!). Start with glimpses of kingdom–God’s holistic vision and dream for the world and its people; show how Jesus announces and embodies it–and climax with cross and resurrection to display its deepest character, power and wisdom. Begin part II with pentecost–first fruits from the Seed planted in the ground!–and church.
Even though Jews had their own historically shaped (and flawed) idea of what “God’s kingdom” would mean, I think all human beings (as with creation) inwardly groan for the world and themselves to be made totally right, for all the parts and people to be made new and work together as they should. That seems to be the heart of the agenda of the reign of God. I think we have to locate Jesus there in that context early on so that his actions, his teachings, his cross and resurrection (& pentecost) all form an integrated story of “good news.”



report abuse
 

T

posted May 18, 2010 at 11:26 am


Sorry, I meant to say I agree with the “3″ points. We need to have more of these conversations to fill the hole.
A tip: N.T. Wright once commented he’d like to translate “Christ” to “King” to help folks think more accurately about what Paul is saying in his letters. It’s a great exercise to do yourself to connect Paul to the “king”-dom gospel of the gospels. Every kingdom has a king. Paul focused on announcing the king (Christ), while Jesus talked mainly about (his) kingdom, and often himself as the key figure in it.



report abuse
 

chad m

posted May 18, 2010 at 11:28 am


i think the call to participation in the Kingdom has a greater significance than the personal fire insurance charge of the previous models. it’s funny, i just preached on this topic last Sunday. i believe God is more interested in calling people to embody the Kingdom rather than pray a prayer or put faith in a list of beliefs/rules. God invites people to participate in something bigger than themselves. finally, a Kingdom mentality offers hope not only for individuals, but for al people. i think this greater sense of hope is lost when the Gospel is boiled down to “getting right with Jesus.”



report abuse
 

Richard

posted May 18, 2010 at 11:42 am


“taking the theme of justice and giving it too much importance.”
I have a hard time conceiving of this as a problem or pitfall in light of how central justice is to the biblical narrative. God is setting things right to pave the way for restoration of shalom.
Otherwise, brilliant post and I would agree with the two/three points and resonate with what others have posted in terms of sharing the good news.
I especially appreciate T’s comment in 13 which helps us see how “Kingdom” is inherently tied into what Paul is announcing as well.



report abuse
 

pkdd

posted May 18, 2010 at 11:58 am


Isn’t the gap between the two Gospel approaches a case of the general philosophical problem of the one and the many? Perhaps 1 Corinthians 12 offers the starting point for building a bridge.
When I share the Gospel I just offer the bits that are relevant to the conversation. I don’t think an exhaustive Gospel formulation is necessary in general conversation. I just need to be able to speak genuinely about what I find meaningful in my life.
It seems the way to avoid reducing the Gospel to any one formula is given by the Bible in that it is a collection of multiple perspectives. Likewise I think Christians should be open to the Gospel told with diverse starting points. In openness we avoid reduction.



report abuse
 

Pat

posted May 18, 2010 at 12:22 pm


I have long believed (and found it to be true in application) that the gospel has a contextual component. However, this is difficult when working in one context in which people are convinced that the gospel is only to be presented one way and thus short-circuit reaching out to people of various persuasions.



report abuse
 

Charlie Clauss

posted May 18, 2010 at 12:29 pm


This is a great thread!
One caveat: How much of the impetus to recover a “bigger” Gospel is driven by the desire to hide from our own brokenness? I find, both in myself and in conversation partners, the reluctance to truly affirm our brokenness – to say “People are basically good” so to avoid the need for repentance and conversion.



report abuse
 

Jeff Doles

posted May 18, 2010 at 12:32 pm


There are many facets to the gospel and many ways to reach out to people with it. The best way is the one that is needed at the time by the person you are reaching out to. But the more we understand the bigger picture of the gospel, the more we will understand what it means in a particular situation. DISCLOSURE: I am still learning the gospel and I expect it will take me the rest of my life.



report abuse
 

JOEL

posted May 18, 2010 at 12:36 pm


IN MY HUMBLE OPINION
I believe that Jesus IS the Gospel.
when He said I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life, I believe that contains exactly what He embodied. The Kingdom of God as it could be on Earth
When he said ……I think He meant
I am The Way……. a person can live and walk interactively with God.
I am the Truth…… of what God says, hopes, and intends for each and every one of you.
I am The Life….. you could have, with all that is afforded to a Child of God.
I believe God sent Jesus \not only as a Sacrifice(Redeemer) but also as an example of how a real human relationship with Himself can, and is supposed to look like.



report abuse
 

Randy

posted May 18, 2010 at 12:38 pm


I believe that one key to avoiding the “kingdom” reductionism is developing a robust knowledge of and appreciation for the OT.
-Trying to get our heads around what God was up to in the Creation story, in the Babel story, in the covenant with Noah, in the Covenant with Abraham and the Patriarchs.
-Understanding the Exodus story and God’s “hesed” faithful provision for his people.
-Understanding Torah beyond the Ten Commandments Eg. consider how the repeated calls to remember that they were wanderers and to care for the alien challenge either side of current immigration debates.
-Was David trying to unify the Monarchy and religious life by building a Temple?
-What do we learn from understanding that Jeremiah was treasonous, calling for surrender to the Babylonians and an end to the Davidic Monarchy, which God seemed to have promised David would last forever?
Daniel and his friends were out to shape Babylon and serve their colleagues, not just save their own skins.
-Read the Prophets
Peace,
Randy G.



report abuse
 

Jeff Doles

posted May 18, 2010 at 12:51 pm


I don’t understand the bigger picture of the gospel to mean that people are basically good. People are basically broken, and that brokenness manifests is so many ways. The good news of the bigger gospel is that Jesus does not just address God’s wrath toward our sin, but He defeats all the powers that stand against us and hold us in bondage and restores us to God’s original purpose in creating us in this world (Genesis 1:26-28). It is a healing, not just of ourselves, but of our relationship with God, with each other, of creation and our relationship with creation. The bigger gospel means that not only is my brokenness healed, but that healing can begin to manifest now, in this life, bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit. We go from faith to faith and glory to glory. The darkness is fading away because the true light is already shining. I love the bigness of the gospel because it is the solution to my brokenness.



report abuse
 

derek leman

posted May 18, 2010 at 3:27 pm


T:
You said: “Jews had their own historically shaped (and flawed) idea of what “God’s kingdom” would mean.”
I assume that you meant to be harmless. But using such language in the 20th century is harmful. I think you meant “Jesus’ opponents in Israel” and not “Jews.”
You see, Jesus is a Jew, and Peter, Paul, Mark, John. And they had a good idea of the kingdom. So did Moses. Isaiah, and Ezekiel, among others.
It won’t do to say the gospel writers spoke about “the Jews.” The term in their day evoked different meanings and subsets.
Derek Leman



report abuse
 

Adrienne

posted May 18, 2010 at 3:36 pm


I jumped over from Google Reader to post about True Story by James Choung. But I can see I was beaten to the punch.
It’s not that James has created the “new” version of the cross-bridge-hell diagram. It’s that he’s created a framework that can anchor a conversation. And reading about this framework helped me organize my own.
Watch “The Big Story” presentation:
http://www.jameschoung.net/2007/09/17/the-big-story/



report abuse
 

Jeff Doles

posted May 18, 2010 at 4:10 pm


I think it is fair to say that the Jewish expectation about Messiah and the kingdom of God were different from what actually happened. Even the disciples had difficulty understanding. Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, they asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). I don’t think they were ready for His answer — He didn’t say Yes; He didn’t say No. But He said, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons” (v. 7). Then He added something unexpected: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth? (v. 8). I think that tells us something very important about the kingdom.



report abuse
 

derek leman

posted May 18, 2010 at 5:07 pm


Jeff:
My point is that repeated generalization about “the Jews” from Christians for 2,000 years have been harmful. It is good for all of us to use more specific and clear language.
The rhetoric for so long has fed the myth: Christians are right and Jews are wrong. It has gone downhill from there.
Derek Leman



report abuse
 

Jim Martin

posted May 18, 2010 at 5:13 pm


Scot, yes I think the two consensus points represent where many people are.
A few observations:
1. I am very interested in how to articulate the gospel to unbelievers. I am grateful for this conversation. I think this is very important. I do believe that the church must consider not only comprehending what the gospel really is but how to articulate this.
2. Think that John Frye is very much on target regarding the importance of keeping the gospel message connected with the robust community that it forms.



report abuse
 

Joseph McAuley

posted May 18, 2010 at 5:20 pm


Scot, I think this post accurately describes the questions that your next book should be dealing with! I look forward to reading it. Joseph



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted May 18, 2010 at 5:28 pm


Joseph, I’m writing it right now … and hope to have it in near-ready shape when I go to Ireland in June.



report abuse
 

Stephen Mook

posted May 18, 2010 at 5:51 pm


Jesus teaches on the Kingdom of God at the end ?of his earthly ministry (Acts 1) and Paul was always teaching on and living out the Kingdom of God, especially in Ephesus teaches?(Acts 19).
The kingdom comes through the gospel of Jesus, it’s a both/and reality.
My question is how can so many in the resurgent stream of evangelicalism (neo-Reformed) have conference after conference on the gospel and leave the Kingdom of God as a footnote? I appreciate their sound teaching on Christ “substitutionary sacrifice” as Tim Keller said at the gospel coliation conference last year. Yet the kingdom of God is disconnected from their gospel emphasis.?
?
I’m apart of the Reforming tradition, so let’s be faithful to all of scripture and not let our neo-Reformed gospel coliation conferences of the month dictate the gospel for us.
A question and a rant, i’d enjoy hearing your thoughts…



report abuse
 

danderson

posted May 18, 2010 at 6:17 pm


The gospel has always made the most inroads when people find that this world doesn’t have the answers nor can it fulfill our deepest needs. Western culture has fed us a steady diet of materialism and entertainmnent, easy sex and making a quick buck. It’s easy to see why Africa, Asia and Latin America is where the center of Christianity is now going. When one is at the end of his rope, or lives from day to day from the hand of God, the Kingdom is not to far away. Those tilling the soil find that humus and humility are close cousins.
Western culture is a mile wide and an inch deep. He who has ears, let him hear.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted May 18, 2010 at 6:27 pm


Scot (#29)
We’re all looking forward to this one. (book that is…)
Captcha – encore the



report abuse
 

Steve S

posted May 18, 2010 at 7:48 pm


Scot, I am surprised that you see people equating ‘Kingdom’ with ‘justice.’
Perhaps it is just my own context, but I see people talking about Kingdom in very different terms. (I have been introduced to the kingdom concepts through Wimber, and Willard, only later coming to read the Emergent folks and Wright.) Would you say that people (even Wright) are actually saying kingdom=justice?
I don’t see that at all…
Just curious!



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted May 18, 2010 at 7:53 pm


Steve S,
No, for sure Tom Wright is not doing this. Here are some critical factors that, if one wants to use the word the way Jesus intended, must be involved:
1. Eschatology: the future kingdom of God inaugurated now.
2. Jesus: kingdom cannot be disconnected from following Jesus.
3. Justice: yes, by all means, in the shape of community but “justice” defined by the Hebrew Bible — mishpat, tsedek, etc.
4. Moral transformation: the kingdom has the power to effect change at all levels, including moral vision.
5. Cosmic: the kingdom assaults the powers of this world, both systemic and supernatural and natural — ecological, etc.
6. Community: the kingdom must be connected to Israel’s hope for Israel so that it takes the shape of a new society, the society as God wants it.



report abuse
 

Richard

posted May 19, 2010 at 8:48 am


@ 34
Scot,
Thanks for clarifying. Your concern in the original post makes more sense to me now.



report abuse
 

qb

posted May 19, 2010 at 9:51 am


The equivalence needs to work both ways. “Gospel” is circumscribed by “kingdom,” for sure…but “kingdom” must also be credibly circumscribed by “gospel.” Which is to say that following Jesus must be demonstrably good news with visible staying power. Testimony must be granite and marble, not cardboard, holographic, episodic, transparently contrived, or gratuitously spectacular. The question that must be answered in the affirmative is, “does buying into the kingdom rule of Jesus actually transform both persons and communities in the constitutive way that Jesus promised, or not, and if so, what is the evidence?”



report abuse
 

T

posted May 19, 2010 at 10:15 am


Derek,
I’m sorry I offended; I made the assumption too easily that people would know by the context I was referring to the Jews of Jesus’ day who heard John’s and Jesus’ kingdom announcement, which I should have said explicitly.
But I was lumping all the subsets of Jews of that time period together, save Jesus himself, and making two generalizations: First, that if anyone had the background to fully share Jesus’ kingdom vision and his plan for how it was to come, the Jews of that time were that people; but second, no one’s kingdom vision in that time, not even John the Baptist’s or Peter’s, matched Christ’s and were in no need of correction. They were all flawed in one way or another compared to the reality, particularly in how it would come and its love-your-enemies ethos. My point was that all of our visions of the kingdom (even the Jews of Jesus’ day) are flawed in many of the details, but even “non-jewish outsiders” long for the core of the kingdom’s activities and concerns and promises as with all creation, and all can resonate with that core content of the good news of the reign of God.
But I’ll be more specific and considerate in my choice of words next time!



report abuse
 

Wyatt Roberts

posted May 19, 2010 at 10:16 am


Scot:
You’re correct. NT Wright’s summary of the Gospel (and I love Wright) is that The Gospel is more or less the proclamation that Jesus is Risen and Now Reigns. As true as this is, it’s seems largely disconnected from the actual teaching of Jesus, and more focused about events that happened TO him.



report abuse
 

Jeff Doles

posted May 19, 2010 at 11:17 am


I think the proclamation that Jesus is Risen and Now Reigns is very much connected to the teaching of Jesus. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Gospel of Matthew, and from beginning to end, I see the kingdom of God (I call it The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth) in His ministry. Jesus began His ministry announcing that the kingdom has come, and His teaching was oriented to it throughout. Then after the resurrection and just before He ascended to His throne in heaven, He announced to the disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). So the kingdom has come into the world and all authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth — surely that is kingdom authority, and the announcement that Jesus now has it signifies that He is now King.



report abuse
 

Scott Olson

posted May 19, 2010 at 12:48 pm


Scot,
I resonate with the struggle to present and represent a gospel that’s focus is escape from hell and eternity in heaven without the inclusion of the concept of kingdom that Jesus spoke of as a central concept; however, there is also the necessity of the understanding of judgment for sin which is known through the law which leads to utter brokenness and the cry out for being saved from the death we are experiencing and will experience apart from Christ in His kingdom which brings eternal life (in the present extending towards the future), hope, redemption of the past, freedom from oppression, power over darkness, sin, and demonic forces, etc… I desire to present a holistic gospel of the kingdom and wrestle with how to communicate this.
Scott



report abuse
 

Wendy McCaig

posted May 19, 2010 at 1:38 pm


In response to your two questions, I agree that there is a consensus regarding the two points you make among certain circles but I do not think that consensus is at all present in the pews. I run an urban ministry in the inner city of Richmond and we host two missional communities in public housing complexes. The vast majority of individuals who join our missional communities from churches still think their job is to sell insurance. I see no one falling off the bridge on the ?justice? side of the equation.
We have been trying to find ways of communicating the gospel that is fuller and healthier by focusing on practices that build the Kingdom, in particular the practice of Christian hospitality. We have found that if we seek to see Christ in those we befriend, they begin to see Christ in themselves. That is far more effective than telling people that they need to get their insurance in case they die tonight. I posted on this topic last week in response to Dan Kimball?s post on the same topic. I think this is a huge need and I appreciate the post and comments.



report abuse
 

Wyatt Roberts

posted May 19, 2010 at 1:50 pm


Jeff — I agree with you that, yes, the proclamation that Jesus is Risen and Reigns and “The Gospel” are interrelated. However, it seems unlikely that people could intuit much about the teachings of Jesus from that simple proclamation. Praxis, it seems to me, would require knowing a little something about what it is we’re supposed to be doing.



report abuse
 

Jeff Doles

posted May 19, 2010 at 3:04 pm


Wyatt, perhaps I missed it, but I have not seen Wright, or anybody else, suggest that we should leave off the teaching of Jesus. Paul was very big on proclaiming the resurrection and Lordship of Jesus, but I do not think He left out the teaching of Jesus. If, as many people think, the Gospel of Luke represents the teaching and preaching of Paul, though one would not necessarily see that in his epistles. We need it all.
Wendy, it seems to me that people do “fall off the bridge” on the justice side when they modify “justice” with “social” and it becomes little more than an agenda for socialism. I have see Christians who oppose such political programs treated as if they did not believe the “red letters,” the sayings of Jesus, and care only about establishing their own little kingdoms.
We are to show people the hospitality of the kingdom. Toward that end, Jesus send the Twelve, and later the Seventy, to extend that hospitality by healing the sick and expelling demons. But He also sent them out to preach, to proclaim the kingdom and call for repentance. (Mark 3:14-15; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 10:1-11). We are charged with both aspects.



report abuse
 

Wendy McCaig

posted May 19, 2010 at 5:04 pm


Jeff, I agree there must be a both/and in all this. Social justice without proclamation is just as dangerous as Evangelism without relationship. I have been battling this exact battle in my ministry and have been blogging on it in an attempt to find common ground. I think that is why it is incredibly important that we engage in these conversations. What I have found is that often certain words trigger a closed attitude from either side. Those promoting proclamation, hear “social justice” and assume there is no room for Christ and those on the “social justice” side hear “evangelism” and think fire insurance salesmen. What I like about this post is the focus on Kingdom but I think there needs to be a lot more work done in fleshing out what is meant by that word. So often it is the words that are tripping us up and if we can just really hear one another I think we will find there is far more agreement than we think.



report abuse
 

Wyatt Roberts

posted May 19, 2010 at 9:37 pm


Jeff:
Please pardon me for not being clear. I am not suggesting AT ALL that Wright believes we should “leave off the teaching of Jesus.” Quite the contrary. Wright is a huge inspiration to me. The biggest.
What I am saying is this: When Wright defines “The Gospel” — euangelion — it is almost always from a sort of Pauline perspective, rather than one that focuses on the actual words, teachings of Jesus.
“The gospel is the royal announcement that the crucified and risen Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again according to the Scriptures, has been enthroned as the true Lord of the world. When this gospel is preached, God calls people to salvation, out of sheer grace, leading them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the risen Lord.” ? (From Christianity Today, June 2009)
“The second thing to say about the universal Lordship of Jesus Christ in Paul is what we today call the political meaning. In several passages, when Paul says that Jesus is Lord one of the many meanings of that is that Caesar is not. I have written about this extensively elsewhere and haven?t got time to develop it further at the moment, except to point out that for Paul?s hearers the word ?gospel? itself, applied to the message about Jesus, would have carried this implication, since along with its meaning in Isaiah 40 and 52, which stand in the background of Paul?s own thinking, the word euangelion was in first-century use as the ?good news? of the accession, or the birthday, of the Emperor. Part of the meaning of Solus Christus for today is that we recapture Paul?s insistence that Jesus is the world?s Lord; that, as Jesus himself said, all authority not only in heaven but also on earth has been given to him. The churches in the western world have hardly begun to address the question of what this might mean in practice, and when they have tried they have often got it badly wrong. But unless we make the effort we are not simply missing out a marginal element in Paul?s preaching. We are being disloyal to the gospel itself, to the message that the crucified Messiah is the Lord of the world.”
http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Auburn_Paul.htm
My disagreement with Wright has to do with the very specific issue of how he defines “The Gospel.” I am NOT saying that Wright doesn’t affirm the teachings of Jesus, only that his DEFINITION of The Gospel doesn’t include them.
But I love Wright.



report abuse
 

Howard P

posted May 19, 2010 at 10:39 pm


I agree with many of the points made in the article and comments above. I’d also like to see the conversation move into the realm of what it means to experience and express the Gospel, and the “Kingdom”. We could, as an example, sit around all day and talk about what the key ingredients of a football game are, and how playing it differs from others sports. Ultimately, however, if we are promoting football, that work is best done by people who have become football players. Their stories of what it is like “on the field”, in the trenches, at the bottom of pile ups, create the best accounts of what the game of football is all about.
In this respect, I think we need to ask the question of what’s the “game of the Gospel” all about, and how does one know whether not we are in fact on the field. To this I would respond by suggesting that if you have to ask the question of whether or not you are on the field, you probably are not. The game of the Gospel is first in foremost an expression of what happens in one’s life when God’s heart comes alive in us, and we are led by God’s Holy Spirit to share God’s love WITH PEOPLE and IN WAYS that they never would have imagined before this NEW LIFE came alive in them.
The “way, truth, and life” is something we enter into and walk out, aided but hardly completed by attendance to church and professions of the mouth. Whether we be talking about the social Gospel or Evangelism, the real “on the field” work of loving our neighbors and testifying to Christ is for Christ to do in and through us. If we are truly alive in Him, and He in us, the Gospel will play itself out in our own lives, and Jesus will be seen in our actions, more than it or he needs to be sold. Truth has a way of selling his self. And where and when that truth is experienced, the Kingdom is alive.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the hand of God's bounty (v. 7a).Step two: David became too

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: Deity or Deism noted: ...this reminds me of why I get a

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's new book is called Almost Christian: What the Faith of Ou

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or two with their hands ... but that's what makes this diet

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.