[FT] What is the Gospel?

Johan Maurer johanpdx at gmail.com
Tue Nov 1 19:36:47 PST 2005

I've been so busy scooping up data on evil that I've not checked other
topics recently. (I'll send another status report on the "evil
project" separately.)
But I can't think of a happier topic than "what is the Gospel?"
because as an evangelist, answering that question is my main concern.
At the risk of universalizing my private preferences, I would like to
risk suggesting that if evangelism (with integrity) became Friends'
main concern, if our testimonies included "right sharing of all
resources, including the Gospel," our quakerly perspectives would be
reset in a very healthy way.

One of the best answers to the question, "What is the Gospel?", is the
one given by the near-contemporary Russian Orthodox priest, Alexander

Men' was a student of the history of religion. He could not avoid the
challenge of pluralism by pretending it didn't exist, or by ignoring,
simplifying, slandering, or insulting other religions (all popular
tactics among some Christians). As he said in several places,
including an interview with Mark Makarov on Russian radio just over a
month before his still-unsolved murder in 1990, Christianity is NOT
unique because it has more beautiful art or more exalted ethics. It is
unique because of one thing: Jesus Christ himself. "Every religion is
a path toward God, a guess about God, an approach toward God. These
form a vector aimed upwards from below. And the appearance of Christ
is an answer: its vector is from heaven to us. The first vector is
located within a historical frame. The second has no parallel nor
precedent. Christianity is unique because Christ is unique." (my

As Men' says, and as the Bible confirms, humans have always tried to
get closer to God, to figure God out, to climb up the God-mountain.
The good news is this: in Jesus, God "condescended" to come to us. Our
striving and guessing can come to an end, and it doesn't earn us even
an inch of the way toward heaven. God created us of love (as Anthony
Bloom says, God "loved us into being"), and even when we were doing
our best to break God's rules and trash God's beautiful creation, God
gave that love its ultimate expression through Christ.

I am not sold on the judicial or transactional interpretation of the
atonement, but I am completely sold on the unique work of Christ as
the Son of God, our Prophet, Priest, and King. Whatever our
discipleship may look like as we go deeper into the Christian life
(whether ascetical, pastoral, evangelistic, prayerful, artistic,
administrative, scholarly, helpful, prophetic, or whatever
combination), our first step has no gnostic mysteries or religious
athletics at all. It is something we can do right here and right now,
our "yes" of relationship, a response to the God who did everything,
paid everything, to restore fellowship with us. Thanking God for this
good news, this gift of Jesus, this "vector from heaven to us," is a
worthy and wonderful way to spend the rest of my life.

And being in a mutually supportive, mutually accountable community of
others who are equally thankful, is a way I love visualizing the


2005/10/21, Friends-Theology-request at quakerchristian.net
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>   1. Re: What is the gospel? (David E Nagle)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Thu, 20 Oct 2005 23:06:57 -0500
> From: David E Nagle <davnagle at juno.com>
> Subject: Re: [FT] What is the gospel?
> To: Friends-Theology at quakerchristian.net
> Message-ID: <20051020.232730.2340.0.davnagle at juno.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain
> The GOOD News is that there is one, even Christ Jesus, who can speak to
> our condition.  God has chosen to make part of Himself available to us,
> and that part which we can know, I call Christ.  This was God's choice, a
> free gift to all who are willing to accept Him into the center of their
> lives.  There are no intermediaries necessary, no priests, no rituals,
> not even writings.  He relates directly to each of us because of His love
> for us.  He gave His own Son, Jesus of Nazareth, as a propitiation of our
> sins.  He has given us the Bible as an aide, a wonderful record of His
> relationship with His creation and of His ultimate gift to us.  He lives!
> He loves us!  This is the Gospel, the Good News.
> David E. Nagle
> Ohio & Great Plains YMs
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> End of Friends-Theology Digest, Vol 4, Issue 50
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Johan Maurer, Portland, Oregon, USA
johanpdx at gmail.com
johanm at mindspring.com

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