What is the gospel? This question, some could say, has been the dominant question in the post-evangelical landscape these past ten years.. Brian McLaren has written extensively about it (think only about the Secret Message), Scot McKnight has written in various ways about it, it took up a whole year for the Christian Vision project of Christianity Today. Indeed it is EVERYWHERE! We are seeking the means to think biblically & theologically about the fullness of the gospel in Jesus Christ. Aside from various theological explorations, we need ways to expand our imaginations contextually. We need to understand all God has wrought in and thru the singular work of Jesus Christ for our various contexts.
Can I say this is what is so special about the work JR Woodward has done in bringing about the book Viral Hope: Good News from the Urbs to the Burbs. It’s a collection of short essays from 50 different authors (full disclosure – I am one of them) articulating the gospel in their own local context. It is an exercise in orthodox imagination for the work of contextualizing the gospel in our time.
The book is published by Ecclesia Press, which is the nonprofit publishing arm of the Ecclesia Network, a network I have become more and more involved in over the past couple years. Scot McKnight wrote the foreword, and Chris Backert (director of Ecclesia) wrote an excellent conclusion to the book.
There simply are not too many books out there like this. I think it is particularly appropos for a seminar or class in evangelism. For upon reading it, we are taken in a journey of contextualziation around the world. It demands an expanding vision of what God is doing in the world. It demands we think through what the gospel might be in particular ways for our own context.
All this to say, I gladly recommend this book. I’m not being a”Homer” here. It’s an opening salvo to the traditional enclosed church for all pastors/professors to use in calling people into the wide open world of God’s Mission.
And Oh BTW, on another book’s release, I hear that Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet are releasing their newest book tomorrow Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and sovereignty of Jesus Christ. It will be on special discount from Amazon tomorrow, Tuesday, June 1st, the official release date. I think it’s half price? You can learn more by going to TheJesusManifesto site. Anyways, I read it. To me, it played into a theme that I am working on in political theory these days, that the church becomes “an empty politic” built around antagonisms when it its not built around the direct particpation in Christ and His life in the Triune God. Of course, Frank and Len are not doing political theory here ( I would never want to accuse anyone of such a thing!). I was nonetheless appreciative of their like mindedness in this book. So I blurbed it!! Hope the books does well.