A good word from Vanhoozer on the catholicity of the Gospel in dialogue:

. . . A non-reductive orthodoxy will be expansive, but not to the point of dissolution. The danger of including too many voices is that the message becomes garbled, drowned out in an unholy cacophony. Orthodoxy should be generous, but not to the point of giving away the shop. Like the universe itself, orthodoxy is poised somewhere between an infinite expansion and a “big crunch” — an instance of reductionism on the grandest scale, where everything that is gets squeezed into an infinitely dense point. In the theological counterpart to the cosmological drama, “evangelical,” with its insistence on “no other Gospel,” refers to orthodoxy’s centripetal force, while “catholic” stands for orthodoxy’s centrifugal force: the church’s reception of the Gospel over the centuries and across cultures. Where “evangelical” reminds us that understanding is accountable to the Gospel, “catholic” reminds us that the Gospel is not monocultural. The one gospel is best understood in dialogue with the many saints. George Cairds’ comment on the love of Christ mentioned in Ephesians 3: 18 is apt: “[I] t takes the combined experience of all Christians to comprehend it.” (Kevin J. Vanhoozer, “The Drama of Doctrine,” 30)

I think this is a good statement of balance on how we should think about the Gospel, and avoiding sectarian attitudes. The church is “catholic” or universal, i.e. not necessarily Roman, which means that the true gospel is representative beyond North America, and the various expressions of the Gospel in our particular region. We need to be sensitive, and open to the fact, that our particular tradition or denomination does not have a corner on the Gospel as disclosed in Jesus Christ (better personified). We need to test all things, and hold fast to what is good; which means we need to listen to each other when we talk about the Gospel. I think this is Vanhoozer’s point, and I think it is a good one!

Advertisements