About the Gospel¶
The word Gospel is the English translation of the greek term εὐαγγέλιον (euangélion). This term is used for two very different things: Biblical authors used it to designate Jesus’s teachings as a whole, and Christians later used it to also designate the texts about Jesus’s life1. I recommend to use “Gospel” only for the literal genre and to use Good News when you mean the Christian teaching.
- Good News
The teachings brought to humanity through Jesus Christ.
- Gospel (Good News)
A synonym for the Good News.
- Gospel (literal genre)
A text about Jesus’s life, death and resurrection. Usually one of the four books of this genre that are part of the Bible (Mark, Matthew, Luke and John).
This historic confusion is an unfortunate issue that has caused much harm. It will continue to do so until this differentiation has become basic knowledge for every Christian. See also Don’t worship the Bible more than God.
The English Wikipedia has an article about the first meaning is The Gospel, which is an exception to the general Wikipedia rule of avoiding definite and indefinite articles. I suggest the following solution:
Gospel : A gospel is a book that describes the life and teachings of Jesus.
Good News (Christianity) : The Good News is how Christians designate the teachings brought to humanity through Jesus Christ.
A religious revolution¶
Jesus grew up as a Jew, but developed a series of changes to his religion that turned out to be fundamental. There is no written summary of these changes, but I would summarize them as follows:
Imagine God as a father in heaven. Pray to him like a child.
Consider all humans as your siblings. The gospel is not only for Jews, it goes to all peoples.
God does not make you “pay your debts” when you did something wrong. He forgives your weaknesses, mistakes, errors, failures and loves you despite of them. This differs fundamentally from the Jewish image of a revenging God.
God’s forgiveness has two important consequence for our daily life: (1) do not fear when you did something wrong and (2) forgive your fellows when they did something wrong.
The essence of the Gospel¶
How to summarize the Gospel? That’s an old and controversial question! No human can claim to fully understand the Gospel. But every human is called to realize the part of the Gospel that applies to him or her.
The Gospel tells me that God wants the Earth to exist, and he wants humanity to act as its responsible manager.
The Gospel calls me to love God, my fellows and myself. Loving God means that you try to see him everywhere, try to understand how he would decide in your situation. Loving your fellows means to be benevolent towards them. Loving yourself means that you care for your body and your soul.
The Gospel sheds light on the way we live together. It calls us to see God as a loving father, and all humans as His children.
The Gospel is the message of the coming of the “Kingdom of God”.
What the Gospel is not¶
Democracy is not a Christian value. The Gospel is not a political message. Jesus has no problem with big contrast between rich and poor (Luke 17:5-10), neither with the dictator-like Roman emperor (Mt 22:15-22) nor with the fact that Romans occupied the Jewish territory and forced Jews to join their army (Mt 5:41).
The Gospel does not ask us to live in traditional families or to protect this way of living within our societies.
The Gospel does not ask us to protect unborn children from abortion.
It “originally meant the Christian message itself, but in the 2nd century it came to be used for the books in which the message was set out.” — Cross & Livingstone (2005). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church.