In my recent posts on the Atonement, I have stated that the single image of Atonement offered by the Reformation and held tightly by those in Calvinist circles (that is, Penal Substitution) is just one single rose in a bouquet of Atonement Stories. I did not seek to denigrate the one rose, but I did intend to say that the Gospel is bigger than the one rose.
That’s the point of this next series of posts. I want to explore the vastness of the answer to this question: What is the Gospel?
I had been trained by my church and even my seminary that the Gospel is Penal Substitution. In my preaching and in my evangelistic interactions with people, the Gospel that I was proclaiming to individuals was this:
- You have a predicament; you are a sinner.
- Therefore, you are guilty and condemned before God for your iniquity.
- You must be punished for breaking God’s holy Law.
- However, Jesus died on the cross as your substitute, taking the penalty for you.
When you place your faith in this act on the cross, two things occur:
- Your guilt is removed through Christ’s payment of the penalty (this is called “Expiation”); and
- God’s wrath toward you is averted (this is called “Propitiation”).
This is the Gospel I have believed and that I have shared with many, many people. This is certainly biblical. God has indeed sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2, 4:10). Jesus’ death vindicates God’s righteousness (Rom. 1:17; 3:21-26). Christ’s blood “blots out” our sins, his sacrifice turns aside God’s anger, and God can now forgive our sins and declare us righteous. God’s verdict of condemnation no longer applies to those who place their faith in Christ (Romans 8:1-2).
But, is that all there is to the Gospel? Isn’t there more? My answer is yes.
It all starts with how we define the predicament in which humanity finds itself. Penal Substitution defines the predicament in legal terms—you are guilty of breaking God’s laws. God demands perfection, and you fall short of the glory of God.
Now, I am not saying this is not how many passages in the Bible define the predicament.
What I am saying is that this is not the only way the Bible defines the predicament.
In the following posts, we will look at other biblical ways to define the predicament.___
The Good News that Conquers Our Predicament (An Emerging and Neo-Calvinist Gospel)
Links to the entire series:
1: Define the Predicament, and You Understand another Facet of the Gospel
2: Predicament #1: The Lack of Shalom
3: Evil Bondage in the Place of Shalom
4: EXODUS and the GOOD NEWS of FREEDOM in Paul
5: EXODUS and the GOOD NEWS of FREEDOM in the GOSPELS
6: Another of Humanity’s Predicaments: Broken Relationships
7: The Prophesied Kingdom of God
8: The Kingdom of God Restoring Israel from Exile
9: The Kingdom of God Healing Broken Relationships
10: The Kingdom of God and the Atonement
11: The Kingdom and the Mission of God’s People
12: What is my view of the Kingdom of God?
technorati: emerging church, spiritual formation