Tom Wright on “What is the Gospel?”

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If the video doesn’t play for you click here. I love Wright’s focus on Jesus. A couple of years ago there was a lot of discussion regarding where to start with people when sharing the Gospel. The point was made (at the Pepperdine lectures, online and elsewhere) that older generations tend to start with the New Testament epistles, while younger generations tend to start more with the Gospels. The approach of those with a more modern worldview is to teach people about Jesus through books like Romans. Younger people (post-moderns) would rather cut to the chase and go straight to the Gospels, preferring to learn from narrative.

Where you start should depend on where the seeker is starting from and what might draw them in better. Typically young people are more drawn to narrative than they are to diving in to doctrine (at least at first…always time for that later). They are going to connect more with watching and hearing Jesus teach and minister through reading the Gospels. They will connect less with the heady teachings of Romans or Galatians). Some of the older people, who may have more of a church background, are often more interested in doctrine and will be more interested in learning about Jesus through the teachings of Paul.

The good news is, Jesus is central in both approaches. Both approaches are helpful and effective. The main thing is that we are out there teaching people about Jesus, no matter what our approach, and let God work on their hearts.

5 Responses

  1. While the gospel is the death and resurrection of Christ as state Paul in Romans 15, that statement alone holds no power unless we understand that the life of Jesus was death and resurrection before the first nail tore into his hand.

    We have a population today that is very skeptical of anything beyond the natural, and that is where the gospel narratives come into play; they put life on a “stated formula” which, to them, by itself, is a superstition. A Christianity that has something real to say, one that has “meat” rather than dry bones, is one that tells of a death and resurrection concretely lived before it demands a death and resurrection accepted by faith.

  2. The belief in Jesus makes one a Christian. The belief in the doctrine makes one a member of the cofC. This is basically what would be expected. The cofC converted plenty of people on doctrine alone.

  3. I love Wright’s writing/speaking.
    In the video he talks about prayer, Word, Sacraments, and compassion for poor/hurting as the four avenues to connect with Jesus. I think I would add community. As we walk in deep humility and honesty with other believers who are pursuing those four, we are transformed.

  4. The implication is clear: the Christian leader must be one who has habitually taken nourishment from God’s Word and continues to do so. Yet reports from an alarming percentage of pastors and missionaries, among other Christian workers, show that under the weight of ministry responsibilities time spent in the Word of God (and in prayer) becomes irregular and haphazard. This passage makes the dangers of this neglect clear; God’s servants must reverse this trend to maintain spiritual health. At the same time, the mature leader must choose carefully the spiritual food to be taken. Godless myths and old wives’ tales (v. 7), a certain reference to the false teaching identified in 4:1-3, must be avoided. This does not mean that the minister should be unaware of the competing claims of other popular movements and religions. In fact, Christians ought to understand clearly the trends of thought that are influencing society and its values. But it must be an understanding arrived at and constantly examined through a careful weighing of these trends against God’s values. In order to carry out this evaluation, the minister and all believers must be absorbed daily in the good teaching of the faith.

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