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What is the Gospel?

It’s a bit late, but here's a head's up that Next Wave posted an article by Scot McKnight called What is the Gospel? It is rather long, but well-worth the read. McKnight puts the gospel in the context of the story it is—and then asks, Where do we begin that story? Here’s a snippet:
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.

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’s oh-so-much more. I really encourage you to take the time to read through it.

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)


susie said…
I love the idea of the gospel as story, a whole huge wild thing meant, like a story, to meet each hearer in the way their heart most needs-- working, like a story, in its concrete sensual details--a man comes at night with a question, a woman with blood constantly leaking from her body reaches out to touch a possible healer (as opposed to the point one, point two of philosophy or self-help.)
One time when I was really sick and tired of all the things I'd been told about God, I read the gospel of John asking myself, "If I didn't know anything about this, what would I think the gospel is?" The sweet answer to this question refreshed me for months.
susie said…
the rest of my comment--I had to run off for a bit--
Also, re the McKnight article, I am disappointed because McKnight does not completely deliver on his promise of looking at the gospel as a story. Instead of inviting us to view the gospel as a story and let the story tell us what it will, he persists in the theologian's habit of reducing the gospel to a point one, point two deal. And I feel his reduction leaves out some important parts of the story (see the nuts and bolts of his last paragraph) because he gives scant mention of atonement, sin, and the cross. Although he invites us all to gather at the Table, it is to partake of bread and wine, not the body and the blood of Christ--and he apologizes for even including that.