Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Different Gospel Definitions

Trevin Wax over at The Gospel Coalition has organized a great collection of different definitions of "the gospel" by different Christians both present and past. I appreciated reading summaries from some names I recognize like Martin Luther, Pope Benedict XVI, William Tyndale, Tim Keller, and many others.

Click here or here for a pdf version to see full list and where the following quotes came from.

I appreciate Gilbert Beebe's emphasis on "It is finished" or "finished redemption".

I appreciate W.A. Criswell's brief summary:
"The message from our Lord Himself is that Christ suffered and was raised from the dead and that remission of sins should be preached in His name to all people. That is the good news. That is the message. That is the gospel!"
I appreciate Robert A. Guelich's summary:
"The “gospel” then is the message that God acted in and through Jesus Messiah, God’s anointed one, to effect God’s promise of shalom, salvation, God’s reign.’"
I appreciate Martin Luther's summary:
"The gospel is a story about Christ, God’s and David’s son, who died and was raised, and is established as Lord. This is the gospel in a nutshell."
I appreciate how M.F. Sadler sees the term gospel being used in Scripture to announce different good news events, and that he does not see Scripture using the term to support a list of preferred doctrines or teachings, for example to summarize preferred views on things like individual election, calling, justification, and sanctification.

I appreciate Craig Bartholomew's summary:
“Gospel (from the Old English godspel, ‘good tale’) means ‘good news,’ and this is the best news there can be: in Jesus, the kingdom of God has come!”
I appreciate Jim Belcher's summary:
“The ‘gospel’ is the good news that through Jesus, the Messiah, the power of God’s kingdom has entered history to renew the whole world. Through the Savior God has established his reign. When we believe and rely on Jesus’ work and record (rather than ours) for our relationship to God, that kingdom power comes upon us and begins to work through us. We witness this radical new way of living by our renewed lives, beautiful community, social justice, and cultural transformation. The good news brings new life. The gospel motivates, guides, and empowers every aspect of our living and worship.”
I appreciate Pope Benedict XVI's summary:
“The term has recently been translated as ‘good news.’ That sounds attractive, but it falls far short of the order of magnitude of what is actually meant by the word evangelion. This term figures in the vocabulary of the Roman emperors, who understood themselves as lords, saviors, and redeemers of the world…. The idea was that what comes from the emperor is a saving message, that it is not just a piece of news, but a changing of the world for the better.“When the Evangelists adopt this word, and it thereby becomes the generic name for their writings, what they mean to tell us is this: What the emperors, who pretend to be gods, illegitimately claim, really occurs here – a message endowed with plenary authority, a message that is not just talk but reality…. the Gospel is not just informative speech, but performative speech – not just the imparting of information, but action, efficacious power that enters into the world to save and transform. Mark speaks of the ‘Gospel of God,’ the point being that it is not the emperors who can save the world, but God. And it is here that God’s word, which is at once word and deed, appears; it is here that what the emperors merely assert, but cannot actually perform, truly takes place. For here it is the real Lord of the world – the Living God – who goes into action.“The core of the Gospel is this: The Kingdom of God is at hand.”
I appreciate C.C. Broyles summary:
"Gospel, or “good news,” designates Jesus’ message of the appearance of God’s kingdom, a message entailing liberty for those held captive to any form of affliction and demonstrated most dramatically in acts of healing. In some instances the term encompasses the whole story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus…"
I appreciate Robert F. Capon emphasis:
“Christianity is NOT a religion; it is the proclamation of the end of religion. Religion is a human activity dedicated to the job of reconciling God to humanity and humanity to itself. The Gospel, however – the Good News of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the astonishing announcement that God has done the whole work of reconciliation without a scrap of human assistance. It is the bizarre proclamation that religion is over – period.”
I appreciate Andy Crouch's summary:
“The gospel is the proclamation of Jesus, in [two] senses. It is the proclamation announced by Jesus – the arrival of God’s realm of possibility (his “kingdom”) in the midst of human structures of possibility. But it is also the proclamation about Jesus – the good news that in dying and rising, Jesus has made the kingdom he proclaimed available to us.”
I appreciate Tim Keller's summary:
The ‘gospel’ is the good news that through Christ the power of God’s kingdom has entered history to renew the whole world. When we believe and rely on Jesus’ work and record (rather than ours) for our relationship to God, that kingdom power comes upon us and begins to work through us.”
“Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, God fully accomplishes salvation for us, rescuing us from judgment for sin into fellowship with him, and then restores the creation in which we can enjoy our new life together with him forever.”
I appreicate Rick McKinley's point that some may emphasize two different gospels. Some emphasize the gospel of the kingdom that they see Jesus and His disciples preaching, and others emphasize a gospel about how Jesus saves that they see Paul teaching.  I agree that Jesus is both Lord and Saviour, and both aspects should be emphasized.

I appreciate Chris Seay's summary:
The gospel is the good news that God is calling out all people to be redeemed by the power residing in the life, death, and ultimate resurrection of Jesus the Liberating King. These “called-out ones” are rescued from a life of slavery, sin, and failure to become emissaries in a new kingdom set to join the redemption of the entire creation, groaning and longing to be redeemed.
I appreciate Tullian Tchividjian's summary:
”The Gospel is the the good news that in and through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, God makes all things new.”
I appreciate N.T. Wright's summary:
“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.”

Personally I feel any definition of the gospel should be broad enough to fit in the majority of passages that reference the term gospel. For example when we look at passages where Jesus and His disciples are seen preaching the gospel, does the way we define the gospel make sense in that context? See Matthew 4:23, Matthew 9:35, Matthew 10:7, Matthew 24:14, Mark 1:14-15, Luke 4:43, Luke 8:1, Luke 9:6 or my Gospel in the Gospels 6 part series. I believe there is value in understanding what Scripture has to say on the importance of the cross, but I don't see Scripture defining the gospel consistently in terms of solving the mystery of what the cross means to us.

Anyways, I appreciated reading through these different gospel definitions. I see many great truths in them. It is interesting that these men have all came away with different ways to emphasize things after studying the same Scriptures. A good reminder to give each other grace as we seek to be faithful to Scripture as we share with others.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. How would you define the gospel?

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