This is a mini stab in the dark. I'm kinda... well, like the picture, walking into a door with a blindfold on. But I've been wrestling lately with the question of the gospel. Maybe to some, that is in itself enough to question what I say next - "What do you mean 'what is the gospel'? Shouldn't you know? You're a Christian! You're in Seminary!"
Yeah, yeah, I know. You'd think that by now, that should be elementary. But that's what I'm beginning to wonder - is it?
Ok, quick case in point: The English word gospel is derived from the Greek word euangelion which means good news, and was usually the good news that a messenger brought to tell of victory in battle. So to use this word when talking about the message of Christ, to say that the message of Jesus is 'gospel' as a 1st Century Jew living in Jerusalem, is to say something very specific about what it is, right?
So, think for a moment to when you were first presented with "The Gospel". It may be easy for you, it may not, but I'm willing to guess that it was only partially presented as good news. That in some way or another there was also the other presentation - the presentation of hell, of the possibility of what might - no WOULD - happen to you if you 'rejected' the presentation of the gospel. Now, I'm not saying anything about hell, etc. Yes, Jesus did spend a lot of time talking about judgment, etc. Don't get me wrong...
But I'm in the middle of opening a few cans of worms here and I need somewhere to set them - to look at them, observe them. I need to think out loud a bit. Because I'm starting to question if maybe we might have gotten a little off track here and there with the gospel. I mean, Jesus' life, death & resurrection - they're key, they're pivotal, they're the gospel... but there's something in the translation - maybe something lost in the translation or something we added in our translation that I'm not sure about. Either way, there is translation involved in the presentation of the gospel, and as I wrestle with looking at that, it's caused me to wrestle with my preconceptions about the gospel.
I had a great conversation with my friend Jeff over at Thoughts as I Go and I commend to you another friend (and one-time boss) Lars Rood who's currently working on a DMin at Fuller Theological Seminary and wrestling with Christ and culture stuff. I don't pretend to speak for either of them, but their thoughts and much of my reading has been boucing around in my head a lot lately and I think it's especially significant at Christmas as we celebrate God coming to earth, becoming human and essentially beginning the process of the gospel.
But bear with me as I think out loud about this and feel free to comment - brand me a heretic - just do so nicely and in love...