A Multifaceted Gospel
Christianity Today recently published an interesting article with the title: A Multifaceted Gospel and the sub-title: Why evangelicals shouldn’t be threatened by new tellings of the Good News. I am presently busy with Scot McKnight’s book: Embracing Grace. But over the past few months I have read numerous authors, each trying to give a certain angle on the gospel, all of them having a certain part of the truth but all of them giving their subjective view on how they see the gospel.
The article ends with the following: Hence, we need variety and creativity in our gospel witness. A chorus of voices from N. T. Wright and Dallas Willard to Allen Wakabayashi and Brian McLaren calls us to rediscover the kingdom of God. Scot McKnight tells a story about the restoration of cracked eikons (image-bearers). Kevin Vanhoozer places the gospel in the context of an unfolding drama. James Choung’s True Story offers a “four worlds” diagram in which we are designed for good, damaged by evil, restored for better, and sent together to heal.
Let us continue to explore and share the gospel in ways old and new. Whether we talk about justification by faith or defeating the powers, sight for the blind or reversal of entropy, freedom for the oppressed or healing of the nations, it’s all good. The gospel is all of the above, and so much more.
I like what the author, Al Hsu, is saying, although I am fully aware of the dangers contained in the title. But, as I read the Bible, it also is clear to me that even within the Bible there isn’t a single well-formulated doctrine on salvation. Having been involved as lecturer for EE III for many years, I personally prefer to explain the gospel according to how Paul explains it in his epistles, especially Romans 1 – 6, but at the same time I place much greater emphasis nowadays on passages such as those found in James, about faith without works being dead and Matthew 25, where Jesus says that “whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” I don’t want to take anything away from the message of salvation through grace alone, but if that had been the only message necessary for us to hear, then the Bible would have stopped there.
The message of God’s grace and salvation is so much more than merely being saved from our sin. Yes, it is that and in a way which is nearly impossible for us to comprehend fully. But it is so much more than merely that, because God wants to give us so much more than merely to save us from sin and giving us life after death. In the words of John, He wants to give us life in abundance and we, who have already been saved, are instrumental in making this come true for others.
Too often Christians stagnate once they have assurance of their own salvation. But coming to faith is just the birth. After this l(L)ife starts! And that is why we do need to accept all the facets of the gospel, believing that Jesus not only wants to save us to get us into heaven but also because He wants to see His Kingdom come on earth.
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This is a blog where I would like to share some of my ideas about contemporary mission. I have more than 25 years experience as a full-time missionary in Swaziland, have done a PhD on the theology of mission – specifically on the relationship between mission and eschatology – and am presently specialising in the problem of HIV/AIDS and how the church should approach this problem. You are welcome to respond and share your ideas on this blog.
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