This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series: ‘Emerging Churches’ (Gibbs & Bolger)
Chapter 3 of Emerging Churches: creating Christian community in postmodern cultures, by Gibbs & Bolger, is entitled, ‘Identifying with Jesus’.
Here are some extracts.
What would Jesus do on a Sunday?
I read the Gospels over and over. Nothing I was doing on Sunday was what I thought Jesus would be doing if he were here. (Joe Boyd)
The kingdom emphasis
It is strange how the church for so long missed the kingdom emphasis in the witness of the authors of the Gospels. The gospel, as proclaimed by Jesus Christ and as understood by the early church, was always more than simply a message of personal salvation and, even more narrowly, the way to get to heaven when one dies. (Gibbs & Bolger)
A fresh look at the gospel
Emerging churches not only focus on the life of Jesus but are also taking a fresh look at a gospel they thought they always knew. (Gibbs & Bolger)
The kingdom is “out there”
As shown by Jesus and his interaction with the temple authorities, the kingdom typically lies outside existing religious structures. Christians need to find God “out there”. (Gibbs & Bolger)
Sanctus’s understanding of mission is that God is already working in the world. Our role is to discover where and then to stand alongside God. Many evangelicals believe they are taking God to the world. I do not like the dualism associated with that kind of theology. (Ben Edson)
Identifying with Jesus
Rooted in the work of N.T. Wright, emerging churches embrace the gospel of the kingdom as revealed in Mark 1:15-16. At the outset of the Gospel narrative, the good news was not that Jesus was to die on the cross to forgive sins but that God has returned and all were invited to participate with him in this new way of life, in this redemption of the world. It is this gospel that the emerging church seeks to recover. (Gibbs & Bolger)
The gospel is the kingdom, not the cross
We don’t dismiss the cross; it is still a central part. But the good news is not that he died but that the kingdom has come. (Anon)
An “inhabited apologetic”
We want to help people consider Jesus as an option through the beauty of how we live our lives. Living in the way of Jesus is not a belief system but a reality. We believe in an “inhabited apologetic,” and through our lives “we bear witness to the reality of God.” (Mark Scandrette)
In choosing to privilege the words and actions of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, over his death and resurrection as explicated in the Epistles, emerging church people have made a fundamental error about the gospel.
It is perfectly true that the word ‘gospel’ as used in the synoptics has, of necessity, a pre-Easter meaning (see Mk 1:14-15; cf. Mt 4:17, 23; Lk 4:18, 43). It is also true that we should not import post-Easter meanings into the use of that term there. But we ourselves are living after Easter, and our gospel is Paul’s gospel (see 1 Cor 15:1-4; Rom 1:2-4).
This does not for one moment mean that we should neglect the life and teaching of Jesus. But when we look at the nature and structure of the Gospels themselves, we see immediately that they themselves are pointing towards Calvary and beyond.