That’s the Gospel? Really?

The 3rd post in an ongoing series about attending a “conservative led” church as a “liberal”.

I am really enjoying the liturgy in the Church of England we are attending. It’s something I found missing in other churches. For me, using liturgy helps me to find my role in the unfolding story of God. There is a flow and a rhythm to the service. We explicitly hear each week of the work that Jesus did in on the cross. It’s important to be reminded of that.

But it also leaves me asking the question, “is that all the gospel is?”

Each week we hear that we are sinful people, heading for hell but because of the cross we are rescued and get to go to heaven.

I’m not against that reading of the gospel. But I don’t think that serves up the whole picture of the gospel. I don’t think that covers everything that’s going on.

This reading reduces everything to a binary transaction. We are the problem, Jesus is the solution.

What of the creation narrative, the Abrahamic covenant, the mosaic covenant? What about the life of Jesus? What about our lives, right here, right now?

None of this matters if we hold to this basic view of the gospel.

Being a “liberal”, I don’t believe that the sole point of the gospel is for Jesus to rescue us from hell and take us to heaven. For me the gospel is the reconciliation of all things. It is freedom from oppression and injustice. It is longing for the Kingdom to come and for Gods will to be done on earth (Familiar words aren’t they?”

I believe that I am saved from something but also saved for something. I am to be a blessing to all people. I have to hold out and hold on to the living word. I care about this world, and its inhabitants, as I believe God cares about it.

The gospel is the proclamation that, through the Son, a new world order is breaking out in the midst of the old one. The gospel challenges us to be heaven bringers rather than heaven goers.

So yes, I believe that through the cross we have been ransomed, rescued and redeemed.

But that’s just part of the picture.

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3 responses

  1. Nice share. I agree we are not just saved for ourselves but for a purpose bigger than ourselves. The Kingdom of God is at hand.

  2. You are right, there is a way of preaching the gospel that reduces it down to a very simplistic ‘Jesus died so you don’t have to go to hell’ message, and that is only part of the gospel. The whole gospel, the good news of Jesus is much larger than this, but where I would put a note of caution, is that all the good news hangs on cross. Every single part of the good news is rooted in Christ dying for us in our place. Our coming to know God is because Christ took away our unrighteous and gave us his own on the cross (1 Peter 3:18), our adoption is on the basis of Christ making us Holy (Hebrews 2:11), that you aren’t enslaved to the demands of the law is due to Christ bearing the curse of the law on the cross (Galatians 3:18, Colossians 2:14), the defeat of evil powers is due to Christ breaking their weapons on the cross (Colossians 2:15), Prayer is a gift of the cross (Ephesians 2:18), ongoing holiness is a gift of the cross (Colossians 3:1-3), unity with your brothers and sisters in christ is a blessing of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). As you point out, the gospel involves the reconciliation of all things, which again, is on the basis of the cross; “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Christ], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20)

    None of the gospel exists outside of the cross. It is the point where the total mighty creation-wide redeeming work of Christ takes place. So yes, yes we need to make sure we have a wider gospel than ‘you get to go to heaven’ but we need to make sure our gospel can exist outside of the cross.

    1. thanks for the comments. I’m sure you are aware mark that there are many (small) things we disagree on but I’m happy to see this obviously isn’t one of them.

      the cross is the focal point by which everything else flows. I wouldn’t dare try to remove that. It just saddens me when this incredible symbol and act is reduced to a binary transaction. an individual ransom that is simply about what happens to us when we die. as you’ve made clear, the theology of the cross is rich and varied and needs to be explored from a variety of angles.

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