What should go into a gospel definition? In other words what are the essential elements of the gospel? Fredrick Buechner's wonderful little book about preaching, Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale, made me realise that the best Gospel definition is this simple three-fold formula.
- Bad News (our sin)
- A saviour (Jesus)
- Good News (God's grace)
It captures the main contours of the gospel but also demands unpacking. Was the sin really ours? Who is Jesus, what did he do and is he real? What is God's grace and our connection to it? It's also a useful definition in helping us see that there are rival gospels, for example; a broken society is the bad news, some sort of educational program is the saviour and a well-adjusted society is the good news.