What Is The Gospel? -- By: Blake Newsom

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 11:2 (Fall 2014)
Article: What Is The Gospel?
Author: Blake Newsom

What Is The Gospel?

Blake Newsom

Blake Newsom is Dean of Chapel, Assistant Professor of Expository Preaching, and Director of Mentoring for Pastoral Ministries at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.


“What is the gospel?” The question seemed simple enough, so without hesitation I responded in a relatively straightforward and unguarded manner by quoting 1 Cor 15:1-5,

Now, brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you— unless you believed to no purpose. For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:

that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures,
that He was buried,
that He was raised on the third day
according to the Scriptures,
and that He appeared to Cephas,
then to the Twelve.1

I followed up the quotation by highlighting the central message located within those verses: the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah, for the sins of the world. After answering, I looked up, surveyed the pastor search committee that had lobbed the softball of a question (or so I thought), felt confident about my response to their opening question, and nonverbally communicated, “Next question, please.”

“That’s not the gospel!” To say that I was stunned to hear those words rifling in response from one of the pastor search committee members would be a dramatic understatement. My bewilderment derived from two sources. First, to my knowledge, search committees do not typically start arguments with prospective staff members, though differing views might exist. So,

I was somewhat surprised to have the answer to my first question so passionately challenged by a member of the search team. Second, and most alarming, was the reason for the glaring indictment leveled at me. I do not think that I am above having one of my statements challenged. But in this instance, I could not understand the reason for such a protest. Because I had completed two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. from a respected seminary, having my understanding of the gospel challenged was a bit confusing. Did I not understand the gospel? Was I confused as to the most basic and fundamental of Christian teachings? My mind raced to understand how I could have answered incorrectly. To complicate matters further, the demurring committee member proceeded to enlighten me with the correct definition of the gospel. As the minutes and points of h...

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