Out of Context: Tim Keller

"Today there are many who doubt that there is just one gospel. That gives them the warrent to ignore the gospel of atonement and justification. There are others who don't like to admit that there are different forms to that one gospel. That smacks too much of 'contextualization,' a term they dislike. They cling to a single presentation that is often one-dimensional. Neither of these is as true to the biblical material, nor as effective in actual ministry, as that which understands that the Bible presents one gospel in several forms."

-Tim Kelleris pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York. Taken from "The Gospel in All its Forms" in the Spring 2008 issue of Leadership journal. To see the quote IN context, you'll need to see the print version of Leadership. To subscribe, click on the cover of Leadership on this page.

April 24, 2008

Displaying 1–6 of 6 comments

James Page

May 07, 2008  10:09pm

Mike and Doug: Are you confusing "the Gospel" with "scripture"? The Gospel is clearly spelled out in 1 Corinthians 15 (as Mike mentioned…though you seemed cautious about it): Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, He was buried, and He was raised on the third day, according to the scriptures. This is the Gospel. The Gospel is not Jesus (though He is Good News), nor is the Gospel the bible (Paul clearly differentiates; look at "according to the scriptures"). I find that clearly understanding what the Gospel is makes sharing it a lot more simple and straightforward. I agree that you could say that "all that is contained in the word of God is the Word of God" but the Gospel (Christ died for our sins, He was buried, He was raised) is not a reduction of scripture or a set of propositions or proof texts. The Gospel is the good news that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised…all according to the scriptures.

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May 02, 2008  12:43pm

Is the article that Tim's quote comes from online? Can anyone tell me where I can find it? Thanks

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April 28, 2008  7:36am

Thanks, Tim. THis does bring some clarity to a debated issue these days. I too read the article this quote came from, and I especially liked the way Tim handled "the gospel to the circumcised" as contrasted with "the gospel to the uncircumcised." Well put!

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April 24, 2008  6:04pm

It also seems to me that it is reductionistic to equate the Gospel with a set of propositions or proof texts. It seems to me that the only adequate definition of the Gospel is Jesus Christ himself. He is the true evangel of God and the only way to properly define "gospel" wiht all of its implications and facets.

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mike rucker

April 24, 2008  9:03am

To say there are different gospels - i'm not that comfortable with a view like that. i certainly believe you take different approaches in presenting it based on your audience, or culture, or the level of knowledge of the Bible and Christianity of those with whom the gospel is being shared. we had an exchange on scot mcknight's website the past few days of whether or not "hell" needs to be part of sharing the gospel. and, of course, you all know where i stand on that. but paul succintly summarizes the gospel in 1 cor. 15, i believe. even there, however, you risk reducing all of scripture to a few bullet points, and i don't think that's adequate for the whole narrative that played out through history and continues to play out today. the thing i would argue is that certain groups today seem more interested in sharing a gospel ("good news") that has a large chunk of "bad news" (hell, God's judgment, man a worthless sinner, etc.) that they seem to enjoying sharing more. and we've said this here before: this is primarily due to the reductionistic, transaction view of "salvation" that is so "decision"-focused that it totally misses all that paul discusses in romans.

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Ben Griffith

April 24, 2008  12:23am

I read the article that this came from. I guess I don't understand why this demands to be different forms of the gospel. Aren't justification and atonement part of the in-breaking of God's Kingdom? I see it as God restoring the individual before that individual is able to work on restoring God's Kingdom. So, the gospel can still be summed up by "restoration," whether inside the individual or outside (in other individuals). I had an issue with Tim saying that he preaches the "simple" evangelical gospel of justification to a certain group. I'm not sure the gospel can adequately be presented and experienced without an emphasis on God's kingdom. Just some thoughts...

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