Instead of beginning the gospel story with the Fall, I am suggesting we begin with the Creation of humans, both male and female, as Eikons of God. That is, as made in the image of God (imago Dei). The gospel begins, and only begins, because humans are Eikons of God.There’s oh-so-much more. I really encourage you to take the time to read through it.
Instead of seeing humans first and foremost as sinners, we need to see them as Eikons of God, created to relate to God, to relate to others, and to govern the world as Eilons. The Fall affects each of the previous: our relation to God, our relation to others, and our relation to the world. Humans, then are cracked Eikons. There is all the difference in the world in depicting humans as simply sinners and seeing sinfulness as the condition and behavior of a cracked Eikon. Humans sin, but their sin is the sin of Eikon. They can’t be defined by their sin until they are seen Eikons.
The gospel, when it begins with Creation, is God’s work to restore and undo and recreate (whatever image you might prefer) what we were designed by God to be and to do. To begin here means the gospel is about restoring Eikons rather than just forgiving sinners. This gospel is bigger and it is bigger because the human condition is bigger than a Fallen condition.
There are oh-so-many things I resonate with when it comes to thinking of the gospel in terms of story. The best stories are rich, full, layered and textured with meaning and truth, and these kinds of stories can’t be condensed into one line about meaning or truth. The gospel is the Truest, the Best, the Original, the Ancient-est, the Story—and it is one full of incredibly rich layers that we’ll be plumbing for as long as we draw breath. Why? Because, as a friend of mine recently reflected, when we encounter the gospel as the Story, we don’t encounter ideas or theology or doctrine: we encounter Jesus.
And this Story is one that is still happening, here-and-now and still-to-come. It is one we are in, one in which we participate in God’s Kingdom-coming—and one, as McKnight writes, in which we “summon others to become friends with Jesus and to join us in the work God is doing in this world, in the work God is embodying in the community of faith, and to join us at the Table where God comes to us in the form of bread and wine.”
(Image: Wikipedia Commons)