In the Christian Vision Project's third and final year, we turn our attention to another "big question." It's the simplest yet perhaps the most important question we've asked: Is our gospel too small? This question prompts reflection on the gospel itself: Are our fiercest critics right, that the Christian gospel is narrow and exclusionary? It also prompts us to ask: Do our techniques for spreading the gospel tend to make it narrower than it really is?

In his recent book, The Dangerous Act of Worship, Mark Labberton asks whether our worship has become too small—whether it has become disconnected from God's great passion for justice and righteousness. Members of his church, First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, California, rub shoulders every day with a culture that often considers the Christian gospel to be not so much threatening as simply irrelevant. In this opening response to our "big question," Labberton asks a question of his own, and we expect it's the beginning of a year of lively conversation about just how good our Good News really is.

Why does the gospel look to so many like a bowl of lima beans?

For those who find the grace and truth of Jesus Christ convincing and compelling, such a question may seem absurd, if not blasphemous. But compared to the spiciness of the cultural concoctions that swirl around us in our globalized world, Jesus can seem like bland fare. Many have the impression that the gospel is small, smooth, and tasteless. They have a culturally conditioned disdain for any homogeneous answer to a heterogeneous world. And they have seen too little evidence to the contrary.

How could it be, some believers might balk, that "the hope of the world," the One given "the name above every name," could ever ...

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The Lima Bean Gospel
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January 2008

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