Friday, May 09, 2008
Jesus' Life and the Proclamation of the Gospel
What role does narrating the life of Jesus have in gospel proclamation? I ask this for two reasons: (1) I cannot help but notice that in Acts (esp. the Petrine speeches) that the life of Jesus figures prominently in apostolic proclamation of the gospel; (2) I've also been reading a bit of Ajith Fernando's Acts commentary in the NIVAC series where he makes the same point. In fact, in his own native Sri Lanka, Buddhists find sacrificial language repugnant (because they view killing animals wrong) and are more likely to convert from reading the Gospels than from reading Paul. That is interesting. I think we have to stop viewing the gospel as a series of linear propositions, i.e. (a) God is Holy, (b) Man is sinfulful, (c) Therefore . . . you get the drift! If we articulate the gospel as a narrative reaching back to creation, through to the history of Israel, encompassing the life of Jesus, the passion of Jesus, and the out-pouring of the Spirit, then we're going to be closer to the apostolic message than with reducing the gospel to the logic behind penal substitution. In fact, I wonder if a lot of evangelical preaching is actually quite Bultmannesque in being ahistorical and dislocating the work of Jesus Christ from the history of Jesus and the history of Israel.