I’m heavy into the Gospel of Mark these days and thoroughly enjoying it. In Mark, Jesus preaches the gospel of the kingdom. That is, the subject matter of his preaching is the kingdom of God. God’s long-awaited salvation in the form of God’s restored order of creation’s flourishing has arrived with the advent of Jesus, God’s appointed ruler of that realm.
Over the last several months, I’ve had several conversations about how the Gospels’ language about “the gospel” should shape how Christians conceive of the gospel. Whereas the New Testament mainly envisions a broader announcement of a larger reality, many evangelicals associate “the gospel” with a brief presentation, or information about the mechanics of an individual transaction that can secure divine forgiveness and the establishment of a personal relationship with God.
In talking to friends, students, and colleagues, I’ve encountered some common questions: “How do I talk about that? If the gospel is the announcement of this larger reality, how do I communicate that to someone? What are the essential points I need to emphasize and how do I make it relevant to that person?”
I completely understand these questions coming from evangelicals who feel the burden of doing the work of evangelism. Recognizing that something more profound is going on in biblical gospel proclamation is good, but it unsettles familiar notions of what communicating the gospel looks like.
I’d like to start a conversation around these questions and roll out some of my own thoughts over the next few days.
By the way, Scot McKnight hits this theme in his book, The King Jesus Gospel.