“I think we have used the word “gospel” without giving as much attention as we need to the question of what exactly we mean by that word. We don’t mean Christianity. Christianity is what generations of us have made of the gospel, and we know we have often made a mess of it. We’re not talking about a religious experience either, because that also is a very ambivalent affair. We’re talking about a factual statement. Namely, that at a certain point in history, the history of this world, God who is the author, the sustainer, the goal of all that exists, of all being and all meaning and all truth, has become present in our human history as the man Jesus, whom we can know and whom we can love and serve; and that by His incarnation, His ministry, His death and resurrection, He has finally broken the powers that oppress us and has created a space and a time in which we who are unholy can nevertheless live in fellowship with God who is holy.” (page 113)

.  .  .

“… if it is actually true that God has done those things which we repeat in our worship and in our hymns and in our liturgies, then it is certainly the most important fact in the world and one which we cannot keep to ourselves, which has to be communicated.  And it has to be communicated for a very special reason: the implication of it, as the risen Jesus Himself said (Matt. 28:18), is that all the final authority lies with Him: “All authority in heaven and on earth is given to Me.”

All of us need to know who is finally in charge. As far as the great majority of the people among whom I live are concerned, it is taken for granted that the final authority is the free market. The free market is the power against which even the largest governments confess themselves to be powerless. It is the sovereign power ruling public life. … If it is true that all authority is given to Jesus, and that he has thereby created a space and a time in which, in spite of the powers that seem to control us, we can obey Him, then to refrain from telling other people that this is so is not merely to betray the trust that has been given us by our Lord, but it is also collusion with the occupying power.  It is colluding with that power which deceives human beings into believing that the final authority lies for example with the free market. And that is why it seems to be fundamental that we place at the centre of our concern for mission the simple responsibility to tell the story.” (114)

.  .  .

“Whatever else we do for people — to come to know Jesus, to love Him, to serve Him, to honour Him, to obey Him — that is that greatest thing that we can do for anyone and it is the specific thing entrusted to us. It must be the centre of our missions.” (115)

—Lesslie Newbigin, “Gospel and Culture” (an address delivered in December 1996), published in Signs amid the RubbleGeoffrey Wainwright, ed. (2003)

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