Comment, add, subtract, clarify, refigure if it would enhance what you see me trying to say here!
Would love your comments!
God’s magnificent intervention on behalf of sinners and against sin, through His Son Jesus, the Christ, is called The Good News by we Christians. The Gospel! Rich scriptural images of the far reaching effects of this Good News are numerous.
Families - fathers and sons - being reconciled; Love never failing; Reconciliation being effected for all; Destruction of sin and death through Jesus; Return to the blessed state of oneness with God; Redemption of the entire creation in all it’s vastness; Nothing short of Total Victory by God. And these images of the Gospel are matter-of-fact. Thorough, complete, vast, comprehensive, all inclusive, full.
For a great many Christians however, the Gospel is more restrained, limited, and constrained. Tenuous even. It is restricted by any number of clauses and qualifications and exceptions. What might seem at first glance to be transparently positive in fact then, for these people, becomes opaque, vague, and insufficient. It’s good news only “if”… The goodness of the news thus rests entirely on my response to it.
I would like to propose that we call this version of the Gospel the “asterisk(*) Gospel”. It could also be called the “except of course” Gospel, but the “asterisk Gospel” seems slightly more concise. This Gospel version takes plainly positive statements and waters them down with vagueness and uncertainty and exceptions. Fine print – apparently unnoticed and unread by the more exuberant versions of Gospel (which is to say that of Universalists) – negating and muting what had first seemed perfectly clear and straightforward and wonderfully welcome. Good news is thus morphed into merely pretty good news, or sorta good news; good news “lite”.
Here’s how the asterisk* Gospel works…
– The Good News is that God, through Christ, (this is Colossians 1) has reconciled ALL things to Himself*
(*except of course those things which refuse to be reconciled; like maybe particularly nasty and stubborn sinners…)
– The Good News is that Love, (this is 1 Corinthians 13) the very defining virtue of God and embodied in it’s infinite fullness in Jesus, never fails*
(*except of course for those unfortunate ones for whom love does fail… you know, the “lost”…)
– The Good News is that In Christ, (this is 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 5) ALL will be made alive*
(*except of course those for whom this is not true…)
– The Good News is that at the Cross, (this is also in 1 Corinthians 15) God won the Victory over sin and death for all time*
(*except of course for those unfortunate victims for whom sin and death remain an actuality…)
– The Good News, is that as a result of God being “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28) there will come a day when EVERY knee will Bow – and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!*
(*except of course those are knees and tongues that have been forced to do this…)
– The Good News is that nothing – nothing! – can separate us (this is Romans 8) from the Love of God*
(*except of course you; you can separate yourself from the Love of God and you can do it forever…)
Two millennia after the announcement of Good News to all mankind, isn’t it high time we rid ourselves of the asterisks that attenuate and neuter the Good News and start sharing the true beauty and completeness of what is, for ALL men, truly Great News? The Goodness of the News is not modified or diminished one bit by the recalcitrance or stubbornness of created minds. Rather, it’s Goodness rests fully, and completely in the very person and character of The Redeeming Savior God. And that Goodness will, in time, sweep all up in it’s redemptive reality and the entire creation shall actually experience Reconciliation with God. (May that blessed day be hastened!)