The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia summarizes the gospel message this way:
The central truth of the gospel is that God has provided a way of salvation for men through the gift of His son to the world. He suffered as a sacrifice for sin, overcame death, and now offers a share in His triumph to all who will accept it. The gospel is good news because it is a gift of God, not something that must be earned by penance or by self-improvement (John 3:16; Romans 5:8–11; 2 Corinthians 5:14–19; Titus 2:11–14).
If God has indeed “provided a way” for humanity to be saved, then we can reasonably make the following assumptions from God’s revelation (scripture).
1. God exists.
2. Humans were created by God.
3. God established a relationship with humans.
4. Something caused a separation, gap, or crack in that relationship.
5. There’s a solution.
Much of today’s Gospel conversations contain these premises.
British theologian, Jeremy Begbie, says;
“At the heart of the Christian message there is something being declared.”
That may sound too simple, but much gospel declaration today is reduced to mere social work or doing nice things for nice people. The gospel is both God-Man and God-Message. The sentiment of “Preach the gospel always and when necessary use words,” *rolling eyes* is just plain wrong. Of course the gospel must be enfleshed, but it must also be expressed. In the past, it was more likely that the above premises were assumed, or at least understood and therefore didn’t need lengthy ground laying sessions for defining terms or creating a gospel ‘space’ where good dialogue could happen.
Today, it’s less likely that these premises will be agreed on from the outset of a conversation. Agendas, rejection, ignorance (willful and unwitting), fear, shame, pressure, and doubt being sensed by would be gospel hearers often serve to widen the gap we’re trying to close. So, where in the past a 5 minute “gospel presentation” followed by a 1 minute prayer might… emphasis on “might” have been sufficient, it is unlikely that evangelicalism’s core crack gospel message still is.
I’m not convinced that a rote or rhetorical bundle of lines about doctrine or morality, were EVER sufficient, but likewise, I’ll not limit the power of the gospel message, even if it’s doled out in smaller chunks. The gospel message is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes it. (Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:18) The who (Jesus) and the what (message) of the gospel is what creates and restores relationship. Together they create community. They create community with people and likewise between God and people.
I believe the gospel, or portions of it, can be tweeted, written on a napkin, sent in an email, shared between floors on an elevator, or even expressed, at times, in a hug or handshake. But I’ll also admit that there are many times when a Genesis to Malachi foundation is necessary. The goal, I suppose, is not to share the whole story in every encounter, but to appropriate the opportunities to share THE STORY with others, and how you’ve become part of it. The Gospel is multi-faceted, but I think the “cross in the crack” gospel only represents a couple of those facets.
Regardless, the question: “Is the Cross in the Crack Gospel Sufficient?” remains…
What do you think?