What's the gospel in seven words?

October 25, 2011

The current Century editorial argues that, while it's unhelpful to insist that Occupy Wall Street produce a list of specific policy demands, it will be useful if the movement can eventually coalesce around a simple statement of general principle. The Tea Party has "Make government smaller!" What's the Occupy equivalent?

Slogan-length summations are crucial to any movement. "Jesus died for my sins" comes up an awful lot in popular Protestantism (mainline as well as evangelical). It's one thing to reject this as an inadequate summary of the gospel; it's quite another to improve on it with comparable pith.

Having seen this challenge come up in the blogosphere a few times, we thought we'd ask a bunch of theologians, pastors and others to take a crack at it. We asked them both to summarize the gospel in seven words and to expand on this in a few sentences. Starting this week, we'll run the responses as a blog series. To see all the responses together as they're posted, bookmark this page.

Got your own version? Feel free to add it as a comment to this post.


Seven Words

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

Gospel in Seven Words

God's love trumps evil, saves the world.

There is no evil God cannot overcome to redeem us. God takes the horror of the cross and transforms it into the birthplace of the salvation of the world.  If God will do that, there is no horror, no tragedy, no inhumanity, no disaster that God cannot reshape and recreate if we will submit to and trust in the possibilities of God's redeeming love.  God's love is greater than any evil.  No power in the universe can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.  Our living in Godly love changes the world's game and sows the seeds for God's kingdom to come and God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The Seven Last Words!

Scrolling through so many entries, I thought I'd surely come upon my favorite: and may be I just missed it,   since  it's only five (or SIX) words:

God's Riches At Christ's Expense

Seven Words

"Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself."

This is both good Gospel and good Torah.


Seven Words

Return God's Love and Love One Another

The whole Bible?

God makes man, redeems him, awaits him.


I may have left out some stories, but that's pretty much it for me.

Gospel in 7 words

God's determined to set creation right.

"Thy kingdom come on earth."  Heaven is not the escape plan from earth, but the paradigm for earth.  Oh, that we were as committed to creation as God.

7 words

I still like Will Campbell's 8 words.  "We're all bastards but God loves us anyway."


How the heck you know that?

Christos Anesti! All things

Christos Anesti! All things are made new!

(I put it in Greek so that it was only 7 words instead of 8 =] )

gospel in six words

Giving the mundane its beautiful due...

It was John Updike's manifesto and I've come to believe it a wonderful distillate of 'gospel.' The loss of hope is catastrophic is our land, leaving nothing but a mundane outlook, life as merely repetition, Groundhog-Day-style...the truth of the gospel and the sharing of such infuses that drab with color...beauty is a spectrum, so there's bright beauty and also dark beauty...but beauty nonetheless, a reason to get up and keep going, a summons to stay alive.

The whole of the Gospel

Jesus told us, he did not come to abolish the Torah, but to fulfill it.  Upon these words hinge the understanding of the Gospels.  For what this means is that Jesus did not come to teach anything other than Torah (which would be to abolish it); instead, he came that we might understand it (fulfilling it).  This is the Hebrew understanding of the words as Jesus spoke them.

And Jesus taught Torah.  The Sermon on the Mount, every parable, is a midrash on Torah.  And what is the whole of the Torah?  Just as one may turn to the early church fathers, the Babylonian Talmud (Shabbat 31a) tells us this story: "On another occasion it happened that a certain non-Jew came before Shammai and said to him, “I will convert to Judaism, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.” Shammai chased him away with the builder's tool that was in his hand. He came before Hillel and said to him, "Convert me." Hillel said to him, “What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary; go and learn it.”

This is the core of the gospel:  What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.  That is the rest of the story.

~Karen W.

Gospel in 7 words...

From various seminary friends, via Facebook:

"Love is the fulfilling of the Law" 

"Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ. Period." 

"The Body of Christ, broken for you."

"God's Word enfleshed is God _pro nobis_"

"Love people, it irks those in power!"

"Christ bids us come and die"

"Repent! The kingdom of God is near." (It worked for Jesus...)

7 Words

Love God, Love People, Love One Another

7 words

My seven:

In Christ, God and humanity are inseparable.

God changes because we cannot


There always has been something about the human condition where we
want to be right: right about life, right about who is in, right about
who is out. The Gospel breaks all of our preconceived notions and gives
us more than we ever expected.

Life does not mean living someplace
up there detached from it all.  Life is here, with all the hurt and
sorrow, with all the pleasures and joys, with a body that includes every
one of its weaknesses and strengths.  God became flesh to show you

We love to keep score in games and in life.  After all, how
could we decide if we were winning or loosing?  If you want, you can
continue down this path and see how far it gets you.  On the other hand,
Jesus comes for all those loosers: the ones never picked by the world's
powers, those people who never can score, He even welcomes those that
don't know what game we are playing. God widens the circle from Abraham
to you.


Peace to God's people everywhere and earth.

The Gloria, I think, gets it just about right, although I would tweak it slightly so as to proclaim the good news of the cosmic scope of God's reconciling love. Shalom is not merely the absence of conflict; rather, it is God's gift to the world through Christ Jesus, restoring all relationships ruptured by sin and establishing a just and lasting peace between God and humankind, between people and other people, and between us and creation.

We are loved. We love. Transformation happens.

The Gospel in seven words... God's creation is an act of love. God's continuing presence in the creation is an act of love. The experience of God's love calls us to love. And by our acts of loving the creation is transformed, becoming all that God, and we, imagine it can be...