If you pushed me, my instinctive explanation of what is the Gospel is to draw the Bridge Diagram. As I understand it, central to Keith’s argument is that this would be a category error. The Bridge diagram is one very brief and narrow explanation of how the Easter event works, not what it is. If you stood beside my glorious Yaris and asked me what it was, I wouldn’t respond by explaining how an internal combustion engine works. I’d tell that this little baby takes me from Point A to Point B and at the weekend on to C. All the time. Without a flicker of doubt. Hiding its five bajillion moving parts behind one aero-dynamic, rust-proof stainless steel coat.
The internal combustion engine is how the car works but the car is a means of transport. What is a car? It’s the way we get around. The atonement, which is what the Bridge Diagram is one model for, is the way the Gospel works but the Gospel is something else.
This distinction is so rarely drawn, it seems radical to even consider it. The reason is that the ways of explaining how the Gospel functions in space and time, the atonement models, get confused with the reality of what the Gospel is. Atonement is a word that Wycliffe introduced into English. It means to make at-one-with; atonement. It is taken as a given in some quarters that atonement is just another way of saying Gospel, in the same way that automobile is another way of saying car.
I think this is a category error.
Too often, the simple ways of explaining the how of the Gospel, our atonement models, descend into being nothing more than cosmic equations. There is a problem that God has to solve: evil. We divide humanity into Christ and carry the death and that balances our equation. Simple maths. A 10 year old could do it. But therefore patently a false and deficient explanation of the Gospel.
If the Bridge diagram was my first way of explaining what the Gospel was and next time I will outline the solution that dealt with the deficiencies of that school of thinking. It might even be a good read…
Your Correspondent, Claims to be an innocent bystander