Saturday, September 09, 2006

intro to "the gospel of embracing grace"

With Scot McKnight's book: Embracing Grace: A Gospel for All of Us, I'd like to interact one chapter at a time.

In the prologue Scot gives this definition of the gospel:
The gospel is the work of God to restore humans to union with God and communion with others, in the context of a community, for the good of others and the world.
Scot describes "the flow of grace":
God embraces you and me and
God embraces others and
God embraces the whole created order.

Then:

You and I embrace God back and
We embrace others and
We embrace the entire created order.
He summarizes:
...the gospel is about forgiveness, about justice, and about the community of faith. And it is about each of them, together.
This sets the groundwork for the book.

God's grace in Jesus is seen, in this picture, to embrace all. Christ's salvation is cosmic in its proportions (Colossians). All of God's good creation is included in his redemption. Those who refuse that redemption and good kingdom of God are judged in the end. All else is saved and united together in Christ (Ephesians).

We therefore, must not truncate the gospel, and make it something less than what it is. It must include the forgiveness of our sins in Jesus and his death and resurrection for us. It also must include justice, living according to the promise that all things will be made right by God through Jesus. This especially pertains to us humans, the broken Eikons (image-bearers) of God that we are. And also to the creation that awaits humanity's full redemption in Christ, so that it too may be set free from its own bondage to decay (Romans 8). And it concerns a community: the people of God in Jesus. This is a community of the kingdom of God come to earth in Jesus. And a partaker in the dynamic union and communion of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This salvation does bring us into that community, and as part of that- missionally, to bring this gospel of God's embracing grace, to the world.

As we go through Scot McKnight's book, we will focus in on these points closer. Though our thoughts on this blog will be only summations as well as trying to interact with the main point, or points of each chapter.

I invite participation. In questions. Thoughts you may have. Or perhaps in just reading. Both for those who have yet to read the book. And for those of us who have read it.

To begin here: What comes to your mind as to what the gospel is? Or, how would you define the gospel?

5 comments:

jazztheo said...

In the life of Jesus there seems to be link the gospel with the kingdom...passages like Matt. 4.23, 9.35 and 24.14. Additionally, it must be good news to the poor, oppressed, imprisoned and blind or it is not good news to anyone...Luke 4.17ff comes to mind.

jt

Ted Gossard said...

Jazz Theo,

So true. Thanks so much for your helpful words here. If it isn't that, then we all lose out, big time. It is for life in the real world, and really we all need this aspect of the good news- though especially a majority, who actually need it worse than ourselves (of course, not to downplay the sufferings of "minorities" in our own country!).

Bob Robinson said...

The most popular articulation of gospel in evangelical circles has been one that emphasizes God’s forgiveness. It’s the gospel that says simply that each one of us is guilty of sin and will be damned to Hell unless we accept that Christ died on our behalf to forgive our sins and give us eternal life. I don’t want to seem derogatory to this expression of the gospel (for on one level, it is true), I just agree with Scot McKnight that this gospel is not enough to change people’s lives. A truncated gospel leads to truncated transformation. When forgiveness and our entry into heaven is the framework of our gospel, it makes life in the here and now secondary. It makes our Christian existence only about evangelism and personal piety, looking forward to our heavenly reward, rather than the wholeness of who we are and the Kingdom life we are called to live in today’s world.

Ted Gossard said...

Bob,
Thanks. Yes, I'm afraid you're all too right. I wish I would have understood this long before N.T. Wright in his writing helped me see it. While what evangelicals see is important, there certainly is so much more to the gospel.

No wonder we find so many grabbing hold of this and that: in self-help books, sadly to say, found even in Christian bookstores. The gospel they know largely has very little to do with their everyday lives and existence- it seems to me. And thus we miss the very reason for why we're even here, and what is to be at the heart of what we're doing, whatever that is.

Bob Robinson said...

Ted,

YES!!

I hadn't thought of it in that way...that the reason there is so much pablum at Christian bookstores about how to live life is that so many Christians have not "embraced" a holistic gospel. When the gospel is truncated to that which gets you into heaven, you have to search elsewhere to find help for the rest of life.