W.R. Shenk, ‘Gospel’, in William A. Dyrness and Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen (eds.), Global Dictionary of Theology: A Resource for the Worldwide Church (Nottingham: IVP, 2008), 356-58.
‘The gospel is the dynamic center of the biblical narrative, the heart of the Christian faith. The term means to announce good news as well as the content of the good news, that is, God’s redemptive action in Jesus Christ for the salvation of humankind’ (356).
The Old Testament
Isaiah 40-66 combines the themes of eschatological expectation, the ingathering of Gentiles, and the new order of shalom, all pointing to the coming messianic age. The chapters speak of the herald from Zion who will proclaim to the whole world God’s universal victory over rebellion and sin (Isaiah 52:7).
The New Testament
In Mark 1:15, Jesus announces the ‘good news’ of the in-breaking reign of God. He proclaims this in word and deed. Paul summarises the content of the gospel in Romans 1:1-6 (linking Christ with Old Testament prophecies, Jesus’ resurrection and lordship) and 1 Corinthians 15:1-28 (emphasising the historical nature of events that make up the gospel narrative).
The Gospel and Human Culture
‘Every person receives the gospel through a particular culture’ (357). The combination in modern culture of the separation between fact and value, and the pietist-evangelical awakening led to a twofold reductionism: ‘(1) the gospel was interpreted primarily in terms of personal salvation and preparation for heaven, and (2) it was an evangelistic formula’ (358). But, for Jesus, ‘personal salvation was not to be separated from the larger movement of the kingdom of God’, with disciples ‘called to live out God’s righteousness/justice’ (358). By the 1970s, a movement was underway to recover the message of the whole gospel.