The Evangelical Universalist Forum

What is the Gospel?

This is a question I asked myself a couple of years ago, and realized I no longer knew the answer to it. I used to think the gospel went something like this:

But now? Well, I’m sure there’s more to the gospel than that. I’ve spent some time researching it in scripture, and my belief is that the gospel is pretty clearly represented in Romans 5-8 – not that that’s the only way the story can be told. I’d love to hear what your understanding of the gospel looks like. Becoming a UR has changed my picture of the gospel, and I suspect it’s done a lot to heal that picture. What does the gospel look like to you? How has believing in UR (if you do believe that) affected your understanding?


To my mind the gospel is the amazingly good news that God loves us and Jesus died so that all of us could spend eternity with him.

I agonised for a long time about dropping the idea of hell in favour of universal salvation, but every time I pushed, however gently, at the idea of hell something went down with a crash. Every passage that was cited in favour of hell seemed to me either to turn up a major translation problem, or a major problem with context.

To my mind the traditional interpretation is an accretion, possibly in the first or second century, by which the gospel has become encrusted with ideas that have more to do with Roman paganism.

The pure gospel as I see it is just that: Jesus died so that we could all go to heaven.

Incidentally a couple of years ago I was on a train to Bristol, and trying to explain this to a methodist minister in the next seat. He said that if we were all going to heaven anyway it removed the need for the death of Jesus. I pointed out that, by the same logic, if we were all going to Bristol there was no need for the train driver. It didn’t go down too well.

I believe in a gospel that is unashamedly universal, unashamedly supernatural and unashamedly life-changing.

I see this expressed in the lives of the apostles. Did they hide away, fearful of a mistake by which they could lose their salvation? Or did they charge around like commandos on double pay, wrecking the odd ship, getting duffed over by the civil authorities and abseiling down city walls in baskets? Move over James Bond, St Paul is coming.

The gospel is simple, tradition has spoiled it. It’s time to do the reformation again, only get it right this time. And if that means some traditions have an appointment with a chainsaw, so be it.

very briefly the Gospel:

Good news, Christ’s life here on earth, announcing the Kingdom.

Christ’s clarification of God, His/our Father in Heaven, goodness, love, mercy, truth, joy, peace, the Beatitudes…

Christ’s death for his and His Father’ls cause, love/forgiveness for loved ones/enemies, incñusive of all His Father’s children, Creation.

His death, victory over death, resurrection, life eternal.

Reconciliation with God, foregiveness for our sins/estrangement from God, reconciliation.


I like that very much, Michael! :smiley: That’s what I think of when I think of “the Gospel” and can’t really add anything to it.

“The Gospel” may, however, have meant something a little different in the first century (at least early on) and for that I’ll turn to NT Wright.

God is becoming king, and he’s doing it through Jesus, his promised Messiah, whose resurrection was the beginning of the renewal of the cosmos.

He now invites us to join his cause of his kingdom, turning from our ignorance and sin with obedience of trust unto rescue.

Rescued by and unto heavenly love and mercy, that we would cease to do evil and learn to do good, and so become truly human. Though we had never breathed as it were, have now been given breath…

The gospel was most succinctly and powerfully stated by St Athanasius the Great:

“God became Man, so that man might become God.”

Hey Cindy, I was thinking about Romans 8 the other day and this came to mind.Starts with No Condemnation, ends with No Separation, I think this is the gospel.

If its not good news, its probably not the gospel.

(what follows is all my view of things, as I currently understand it, which is limited and highly unlikely to be correct in all, or even many things, and I probably am likely focusing more on some things, and not enough on others, so I hope everyone take what follows in that vein and hope I don’t come off dogmatic at all since I certainly have no right to be, as I very much also read this thread in hopes to learn more clearly what the full meaning of the gospel is :slight_smile:. Anyway with that I go on with some caution )

This so much, to the first century ears the gospel was heard as the good news of Cesar’s reign and the peace and salvation it brought to the subjects of Rome. The titles of kyrios and soter were Cesar’s, he claimed to be Lord of the world, so when people heard the gospel of Jesus Christ they heard the good news of Jesus’ reign as Lord of the World (which is why in Acts 17:7 you get the accusation they were all defying Ceasar’s decrees, saying there is another king, one Jesus. And the gospel themselves are telling the story of God becoming King and returning at last, rescuing the world as He always promised in and through Jesus, and reading the gospel we see what it looks like when God becomes King and His Kingdom comes.

I’ve just been talking about the Big Read for Lent to someone to help possibly inspire some ideas to get together with people and read the Bible, and here in it NT Wright explains these ideas in relation to Mark: … A1762959AA … A1762959AA

And for me personally, as I say in my introduction that his big picture in a historical perspective had such a big impact on my understanding and worked so well for me, is the gospel as I currently understand things (which of course is always being expanded and altered, but this is where my limited understanding is right now) is the gospel is about the rescue of the whole world through Jesus’ reign and the new creation it brings, brought about through the cross and the resurrection. The kingdom and the new age is inaugurated through Him and is bring brought to the world through the church (citizens of heaven being an analogy to citizens of Rome, citizens placed out through the Empire to bring imperial culture, life and influence to the provinces, not to return to Rome, indeed as former soldiers often enough Rome would rather not have them back causing trouble, so Christians are citizens being the ones through which heaven is brought to earth, so that God’s will comes to be done in earth as it is in heaven), people being put right with God so they are the ones through whom He puts things right in the world. But it is a whole new way, and new life and new type of power, and new way of being human, reconciliation of everything isn’t forced through control or bullying and tyrannising, not through legions of angels, but by love and self-sacrificial service to others, working for God’s Kingdom, knowing every act of love, kindness, of going into troubled and hurting lives and places, the broken areas of the world and bring love, healing and standing for justice, energised by His Spirit is not wasted, He works through these peace markers to defeat his enemies, all things that hurt and de-humanize people and damage the world, until at his appearing even death itself will be defeated and destroyed and humanity shall be set fully free to be fully human at last in the resurrection, and when we are fully what we should be, creation will be a sigh of relief as it is free fully to be what it was always meant to be. Since God rule in the world, going right back to Genesis, is done through humans his image-bearers, so then fully and now anticipated and inaugurated, to be and encourage what humanity should be, people who reflect corporately and in their own infinitely diverse and unique and special ways, God’s love, compassion and wise stewardship into creation, and it’s praises back to Him, through Jesus the truly human one, that He sets us free and calls humanity to be humanity by Him and the Spirit at last.

And because as I see it, the gospel is the announcing and exercising in reckless and selfless love and self-sacrificial service God’s reign of the world in Jesus as Lord of the world, rescuing and putting to rights the whole world through Him, then the gospel means not just calling people through word and deed to believing faith into Jesus and to walk in the new and renewed way that is springing up through Him, but it’s everything that is part of that rescue of the world, the gospel is helping the poor, standing for justice and against cruelty and tyranny but not by violence but fearless witness, overcoming evil with love, working to support freedom from de-humanize and enslaving systems (like third world debt or even full slavery), working for rescue and protect this world as wise stewards as we have been recalled to be, supporting environmentalism. All this, everything that brings in the new life and creation started at His resurrection and will be taken up and completed, totally freeing the whole cosmos at His return, is the gospel to me.

If that is the pure gospel, wouldn’t you expect to find it somewhere in the New Testament. Wouldn’t you expect to find it in Paul’s words in the book of Acts as he travelled on his missionary journeys and proclaimed the gospel?

According to Paul, Peter, and the writer to the Hebrews, there is only one reason Jesus died. Here are the passages that give that reason:

*I Peter 2:24 He himself endured our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

II Corinthians 5:15 And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Titus 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Heb 9:26 …he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.*

Can you provide even one single verse which tells us that Jesus died so that we could all go to heaven?

The Kingdom of Heaven — The Kingdom of God

The Gospel of the Kingdom, i.e. the Good News of the Kingdom, and how to enter it was proclaimed by John the Baptizer, Jesus, Peter, and Paul. There is only one gospel. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and it is also the Gospel of Grace.

Mark wrote that the message proclaimed by John the Baptizer was the very beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight—”
4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forsaking of sins.

Some think “repentance” means “remorse”. Not so. The Greek word “μετανοια” literally means “a mind change.” To repent is to have a change of heart and mind, to turn around and change the direction in which one is going.

The Gospel According to John the Baptizer
According to John the Baptizer, there were two requirements necessary to become a member of the Kingdom:

1.Repent ie. Have a change of mind and heart.
2. Be baptized. The purpose of baptism was the affirmation of one’s decision, the entrance into the door of salvation, and the beginning of the process of salvation from sin, and thus the bearing of fruit that is worthy of repentance. I think of baptism as a bit like signing a contract.

The Gospel According to Jesus
Matt 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
(Matthew 24:33 so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.)
John 4:1-3 Now when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again to Galilee.

Jesus proclaimed the same requirements!

  • Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14,15)*

To be a member of the kingdom, one must be a disciple of Christ. Jesus said, that in order to be His disciple, one must die to the self life, and become alive in Christ.

Truly, truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who discounts his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:24,25

The Gospel According to Peter
After Peter had addressed the men of Judea, showing that God had raised Jesus from death, and that they had crucified Him, the following exchange took place:

Acts 2:36-39
“… Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”
And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forsaking of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.”

What were Peter’s requirements to appropriate the benefits of gospel? Repent and be baptized! The only difference was that now that Jesus had been raised, the gift of His Spirit was given. Yet, even prior to this, Jesus, before sending out his disciples, breathed on his disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” But it seemed that that was only for the occasion of their ministry. After that special day of Pentecost, the Spirit was given to remain in the disciples.

The Gospel According to Paul

Acts 28:30,31 And he lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered.

But did Paul declare the necessity of repentance, as did John the Baptizer, Jesus, and Peter? Or did he teach that all that is necessary is to believe in the atoning work of Christ? In explaining to King Agrippa his experience with Jesus on the road to Damascus he concluded by saying,

Acts 26:19,20 "Wherefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent [have a change of heart and mind] and turn to God and perform deeds worthy of their repentance.

Does Paul’s gospel not resemble that proclaimed by John the baptizer?
Yes, Paul preached repentance, and doing deeds worthy of repentance. But did Paul proclaim the necessity of baptism? We read:

Acts 18: 8 …many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.

It was after they heard Paul that they were baptized. The necessity of baptism must have been implicit or explicit in Paul’s message. Otherwise, why would they get baptized? So Paul’s gospel not only “resembled” that of John the Baptizer. It was identical!

But is baptism really necessary in order to get right with God? Let’s look at the life of Paul himself. When were his sins washed away? Was it on the road to Damascus when Jesus spoke to him, and he submitted? That experience certainly turned him around. He was blinded, and was then ready to do what the Lord Jesus told him to do. But later, it was Ananias who counseled him to be baptized. From Paul’s own account of the matter, Ananias said:

Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

So it was not when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus, but at his baptism that Paul had his sins washed away.

Jesus taught:
*John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I tell you, unless one is generated of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Although there is much controversy about the meaning of “generated of water”, many understand it to be baptism. This view is consistent with Justin Martyr’s explanation of the ways of Christians to Augustus Caesar and to his son. Justin was born in 110 A.D. In chapter 61 of Justin’s “First Apology”, we find his explanation of Christian baptism.

I will also relate the manner in which we dedicated ourselves to God having been made new through Christ; lest, if we omit this, we seem to be unfair in the explanation we are making. As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them.

Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated… For Christ also said, “Except ye be generated again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”… And how those who have sinned and repent shall escape their sins, is declared by Isaiah the prophet… he thus speaks: “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from your souls; learn to do well; judge the fatherless, and plead for the widow: and come and let us reason together, saith the Lord. And though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white like wool; and though they be as crimson, I will make them white as snow. But if ye refuse and rebel, the sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”…that he may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be regenerated, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe…”

What About John 3:16 and Acts 16:29-31…?

Acts 16:29-31 And he (the Philippian jailer) called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out and said, “Men, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Do these passages contradict the requirements Jesus and Peter gave for becoming right with God? Do they require something less to be saved? So often today, we hear that all you have to do to get right with God is “accept Christ as your personal saviour”. That’s a phrase we don’t find in any New Testament or early Christian writing. Or all you have to do is pray “God be merciful to me a sinner” , or “I realize I’m a sinner, Jesus, and that you died to save me. I hereby accept your finished work to make me fit for heaven.” Or some other such prayer.

I recall a woman from my local area who affirmed that she would not become a Christian, because she just didn’t want to have to come to the front of a church and weep and cry. Some time later, she told me that she found out from her Christian friend that a person doesn’t have to come forward, weeping and crying. “All you have to do,” she explained, “is say a little prayer, and you’ll be a Christian.” That’s the way the woman understood the “gospel” which was presented to her. One wonders how many people have “said the little prayer” and remained unchanged, but are under the delusion that they are now “saved”, that they can go on living their lives as usual, but with the expectation that they’ll go to heaven when they die, or when they are raised again to life.

So, it is said, that all we have to do is believe in Jesus. However, the whole crux of the matter lies in that little word “πιστευω” which has been translated “believe”. Indeed, the word does mean “believe” in many contexts. But another meaning is given in John’s account of Jesus’ life:

*John 2:23-25 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man. *

Is not “entrust” also the way the word is used in John 3:16 and Acts 16:29-31? If we entrust ourselves to Jesus, this includes repentance and baptism.

Luke 13:5 I tell you … unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
John 3:5 Jesus responded, "Truly, truly, I tell you, unless one is generated of water and Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Back to the Kingdom. Has the Kingdom of God already come? Or must we await a future coming?

Luke 17:20,21
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; “nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” NKJV

How was that Kingdom within the Pharisees? A kingdom consists of a king and his subjects. Well the King and His subjects were standing right there in the midst of the Pharisees. Jesus was the King, and His disciples were the subjects. That’s how the Kingdom of God was within the Pharisees. Some think Jesus meant the kingdom was within their hearts. But surely the kingdom was not within the Pharisees’ hearts! Yet Jesus said to the Pharisees, “The Kingdom of God is within you."

Matthew 23:13 But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.

So clearly Jesus indicated that the Pharisees COULD have entered the Kingdom of Heaven right then and there, but WOULD not.

Jesus’ Kingdom Parables

Entering the Kingdom
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.Matt 13:44-46

When a person recognized the exceeding value of the Kingdom, and the quintessence of entering it, he will gladly let go of all of his own aims and ambitions for the sake of the Kingdom.

The Growth of the Kingdom
*Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” Matt 13:31-33*

The Purification of the Kingdom at Christ’s Coming (The Fulness of the Kingdom)
Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed darnel among the wheat, and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the darnel appeared also. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it darnel?’
He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’
But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the darnel you root up the wheat along with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the darnel first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” Matt 13:24-30

Jesus Himself explained this parable:

*Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the darnel of the field.”

He answered, "He who sows the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world, and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the darnel are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels.
Just as the darnel are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.*

Hello Cinders

Good question. And some good answers here too. I like Michael’s definition particularly :smiley: .

It’s funny, but the commonly accepted version of the gospel, as you laid it out at the beginning of your post, sounds so crass to me now - even though I used to believe it myself. You can see why so many people reject it.

But the real gospel, well, that’s a horse of a different colour. For me, the real gospel is simply this: repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

The word gospel is the anglicised form of the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον - euangelion - meaning ‘good news’ or ‘glad tidings’, as used by Luke in chapter two verse 10 of his gospel: “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

Note the clear Universalist scope of that joyous proclamation - “all people”. (The traditional ‘gospel’ is exceedingly bad news for most people.) The good news is that God loves us all, always has and always will. Our eternal salvation is assured - always has been, always will be, thanks to Jesus’ loving sacrifice, his atoning life, death and resurrection, which happened “from the foundation of the world”. We can never lose that salvation, but we do need to give the assent of faith to it to enter into it fully, and to throw off the shackles of sin that enslave us - which is what Christ came to help us to do - “you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins”.

Hence the gospel is unalloyed good news for everybody. But there is an urgency to the gospel, a gravity in Christ’s call to repentance. The Kingdom of God is at hand, but we have a choice about participating in it. We can enter it willingly - as the elect do - or we can be dragged in kicking and screaming, next month, next year, in the next life, from the outer darkness. And that might be hellish :smiley: .



Wow! Great answers, everyone. You’ve made me think and added to my own understanding and I thank you for that. :smiley:

I don’t know if I really have anything to add, but I’ll try to get something up tomorrow. I’m eager to hear what anyone else has to say too, and it’s been a long day – I think I might do a better job tomorrow than tonight. :wink:

I think Cindy’s former, fairly Arminian definition of the Gospel left a little to be desired, especially from the universalist perspective, but consider the Calvinist gospel w/ its limited atonement:

God predestined the saved (the Elect) and unsaved (the Reprobate) from the beginning of time.
Individuals cannot thwart God’s sovereignty.
Jesus’ atonement was sufficient for all men, but in point-of-fact, only the Elect benefit from it.
The Elect respond to the Good News of Jesus Christ because God has allowed them to, but to the Reprobate it is a stumbling block.
Evangelism, at most it seems, is pointless and superfluous other than a kind of condescension on God’s part to the Reprobate, b/c they can’t respond to it.
The eternal destines of the Elect and Reprobate are secure.

This Gospel of predestination w/ a limited atonement might not make the Arminian Gospel look quite so bad :smiley: , even though it is a ways from universalism…

Granted, I think the Calvinist gospel with its unconditional election is a good thing for then one’s faith and salvation is secure (i.e. one cannot apostatize), that is, if you’re lucky enough to be Elect. The Arminian Gospel has an unlimited atonement, but election conditional on one’s acceptance is also tragic as we make bad choices. The Universalist Gospel could be either “Calvinist” in terms of unconditional election, or perhaps “Arminian” in the sense that it is possible that all contingently choose God without being determined, but in my mind, that isn’t secure enough to be dubbed universalism but perhaps hopeful Arminianism.

A “Calvinist” (predestined) Universalist gospel does have one weird aspect (though I don’t think it must be a defeater of it): if God has determined to love everybody in advance, then why this earthly existence, especially when many will choose against God anyway? In fact, if we are inclined to think that God is a determining Universalist, shouldn’t we be less inclined to believe it due to evil, for Arminians can explain much of the evil due to free choice, and double predestination Calvinists can explain that it is due to the Reprobate or fallen angels (but maybe as God willed them this is a bad explanation), but what is the point of evil in a determined universalism?

Good points, Myskin – and everyone else. Like I said, I’m not sure I have a whole lot to add to this, but I’ll give it a go anyway. First, any presentation of the gospel to someone who asks needs to be individual, depending on the person and on the situation. We hope and trust that the HS will guide us, but of course, it’s ours to prepare our hearts and to meditate on His word so that we at least have some understanding of what the gospel is. Looks to me like ya’ll have been doing this. I think something like becoming universalist, something which often affects so much of how we understand the work of Jesus, gives us a chance to think these things through perhaps a bit more thoroughly.

Anyway, my basic understanding is something like this: (I write this as to knowledgeable Christians since that’s what you are. For an unbeliever or a nominal Christian I’d make it much more plain, of course.)

That’s my gospel – more or less. And it’s always growing as He reveals more of Himself to me.

Love you all, Cindy

Thanks for starting this thread; it is an important subject to me.

How do you answer the following atheist’s assertion, which I’ve seen more than once:

“Convince me that I’m flawed, so you can offer me the fix.”

I don’t believe that getting into an argument with someone so sarcastic would be productive, but I wish I had a better grasp on how to answer this anyway.

I’m not sure, Rachel. The canned response would be something like this:

“Have you ever lied?”
expected answer: “Yes.”
“Then you’re a liar. Have you ever stolen anything?”
"Well, some paperclips once . . . "
“Then you’re a thief. Have you ever (fill in the blank) & etc.”

I had someone do this to me (because he read one of my blog posts and realized I was a universalist and so took it upon himself to convert me to Christianity) and I can tell you first-hand that it is immensely irritating. I wouldn’t recommend it. :laughing: It’s safe enough over the internet I suppose, but in person it could get ugly.

I guess my response would be "Well you know, none of us is perfect and we’ve all done things we wish we hadn’t, but if you’re satisfied with your life as it is, then good for you (un-sarcastically). And then continue to be her friend, don’t bring up your faith unless she does and then focus on yourself and your own experience. She can’t really argue credibly against your personal experience unless she somehow shares it (though she might point out that you’re just fooling yourself, having learned how to turn on your endorphins via prayer, etc.) Maybe one of the best things about UR is that we can trust God to do what is best for all of His children. It isn’t up to us anymore. We’re only helping Daddy and it’s He who’s really doing the work. I never did quite believe all that about how if we didn’t bring people to Jesus they were going to hell and it would be our fault. :unamused: It did sink in enough to make me feel guilty for not collaring every person who stood still long enough to latch on to them, but not enough to get me to actually go for it. Not least in my hesitation was the internal knowledge that what I at the time called the gospel would not be received as good news by most. At a bare minimum we now have on our side the fact that we don’t think our God is going to burn them forever if they won’t love Him. :confused:

In Christianity, there is only one gospel, and that is the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is the gospel that John the Baptizer proclaimed; it is the gospel that Jesus the Messiah proclaimed; it is the gospel that the apostle Peter proclaimed; it is the gospel that the apostle Paul proclaimed.

Yes, Paul proclaimed exactly the same gospel, the gospel of the Kingdom. He was adamant that any other “gospel” was not acceptable. Indeed he said in the third person imperative, “Let him be anathema!” Then in order to emphasize how important that was, he repeated it in the very next sentence:

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:8-9 NKJV)

Concerning Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom, the last two verses in Acts state:

He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Precisely what that gospel of the Kingdom is, I attempted to express in my long post. Perhaps no one had time to read it since there has been no comment about it.

Actually I had read it, Paidion, and agreed. :smiley:

We are free to make up any definition we want for ‘gospel’, and many (I’m not talking about this Forum!! :smiley: ) have done exactly that.
However, if we stray from the source - the ‘gospels’ and the remainder of the NT - then we end up talking about ‘a’ gospel, not ‘the’ gospel, as Paul warned.

Of course, all the implications of that very Good News have yet to be fully appreciated by human beings, and I think in a sense that all those implications are part of ‘the’ gospel as well. Healing, reconciliation, justice, the fruits of the spirit, universal reconciliation - the list of blessings, all of which are good news - just goes on and on…

Paidion, I’m sorry not to have mentioned your post as it was excellent. There’s quite a lot here that’s good in fact, and I read them all. Thanks for taking so much time to lay out your thoughts. It’s just that there were so many that I lumped everyone together in my appreciation. Not terribly hospitable in me I realize, but there’s a lot going on here. Still, please be sure that I do appreciate the work that went into your writing that very well-thought-out explanation. It will be here for everyone to reference along with the things all the rest of us have said, and I think that’s worth a great deal. People do apparently come through and read these things long after we’ve written them.

Everyone, I’ve enjoyed reading all the things ya’ll have said. I’ll possibly be off-line for several days (or I might get the chance to check in), but I’ll look forward to reading anything additional that’s posted in the meantime. :slight_smile:

Love, Cindy

I have read through (2 or 3 times) and appreciated your response as well, Paidion. What I’m gathering, in short, from you is this: that the Good News is that Jesus, the Messiah, lived, died for us, and was resurrected & lives today. And, most prominently, that the Gospel Call is to repent and be baptized.

So the question becomes: how do we express the importance of the Good News (indeed, that it is Good News that directly relates to them) to those who do not fully understand that they are lost? That is where the “bad news” starts to come in. I suspect that there is a seed of understanding in everyone that we are missing something, that we are lost. It is then our job as Christians to tactfully and lovingly bring that into the light. As opposed to bashing a non-believer over the head with the threat of Hell.