THE GOSPEL IN CHRISTIAN TRADITIONS
Author TED A. CAMPBELL
Publisher OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
There is a lot packed into seven chapters in this short 136 page book. Plenty of notes for the stout hearted who want to follow some of the sources. The author has been involved in various Christian Seminaries in the USA but the book is not a heavy one for scholars only. It readably examines the history of the churches in particular relationship to the question “is there a core gospel.” Ted Campbell shows that there has been such, it has basically been the heart of the Christian churches of virtually all persuasions and is based on the words of the apostle Paul found in the beginning of the fifteenth chapter of first Corinthians. It is the gospel Paul received, it concerns the Lord Jesus, that He died for our sins according to the scriptures, He was buried, He rose again according to the scriptures. Jesus is the heart and the focus of all. This author travels through the twenty centuries of the church history and it is an intriguing tour bringing together much evidence. He does not go into things too deeply, that would be too daunting, but he says just enough to whet the appetite. The foreword was written by Brian McClaren of “A Generous Orthodoxy” fame. He comments particularly on the way Campbell writes of the initial centrifugal movement that occurs in church history as new movements, the Reformation, Methodism, Pentecostalism etc come into being emphasising their particular fresh understandings and then, as two or three generations pass within that particular denomination there is a centripetal momentum that leads to reaffirmation of the creeds formed in the first five hundred or so years of the church. There is a chapter about the Ecumenical movement of the twentieth century, one that covers the Orthodox Church, Roman Catholicism, in fact, most of the churches get a mention and there is an irenic tone to all. A significant (though not laboured) mention is made as to how the Reformation brought a shift towards the gospel being about salvation rather than about Jesus Himself from Whom and in Whom salvation is found. Perhaps this is pertinent and should be more seriously considered. The thesis here is that the core of the gospel has been remarkably consistent throughout the centuries. True, it may have been held and repeated as an objective belief by some, acknowledged almost by rote, but, it has been there, is there and shall continue to be there and is found in Jesus Who is truly God and truly Man.