The study of the gospel in the Gospels

 

 

This page is all about the study behind the '360 Gospel of Jesus' and 'Sharing faith the Jesus way'. It accompanies the books mentioned in the text and footnotes.

 

For many years I have been fascinated by the question, 'What was/is the gospel message of Jesus?' Here I want to list the many and various books which have fed and inspired the enquiry.

 

The list is not in any particular order except alphabetical for the title. On another web page you will see a more academic consideration of studying the Gospels - to see that click here.

 

Becoming a Contagius Christian by Bill Hybells is American but easilly applicable on this side of the pond. This is one of the few books which helpfully recognises that we have difernt personality types and, as a result, we all approach evangelism in different ways - all of which is OK!

 

Being Saved by Peter Mullen is an academic analysis of the the Christian faith journey looking at both spirituality and psychology. He looks at Jesus, 'life within', prayer and 'being good'. Mullen talks about the 'paradoxical language of religious vision' p24 and the contradictions in human personality. 

 

Breaking the News by J Johnis subtitled 'sharing faith without fear'. J John explore the principle of the three stories (page 45) in a handy guide which concludes with a consideration of the Holy Spirit and how he helps us have the power for evangelism.

 

Christianity Rediscovered by Vincent Donovanhas become a classic in missiological study. Written from a Catholic missionary perspective it is sub titled 'Epistle to the Masai, it radically challenged the way in which we listen to other people in their cultural context. The Foreword contains the oft quoted line about going to a place 'where neither of us have been before'.

 

Communicating Christ Cross-culturally by David J Hasselgrave was the first book to really help me see the two way communication process and a full exploration of the triangle of three relationships which he describes as 'The Bible Culture', The Missionaries Culture' and 'The Respondent Culture'. Produced in 1978 it is still a rare example of exploring all this (on p.73).

 

Did St Paul get Jesus right? by David Wenham is a popular defence of interpreting the biblical narrative in the light of The DaVinci Code and other modern books which suggest alternative interpretation of the Gospel accounts.

 

Evangelisation in England and Wales by Philip Knghts and Andrea Murray. This is a report to the Catholic Bishops which explores Catholic evangelisation in our cultural context, based on a major survey with its findings. 

 

Evangelism - which way now? by Mike Booker and Mark Irelandis a major overview of what has been happening in England - with a particular evaluation of Alpha, Emmaus, Cell Church and other contemporary strategies.

  

Gospel in a Pluralist Society by Leslie Newbiginis still a classic in mission studies, especially as Newbigin looks at the relationship between church and society.

 

Growing Spiritually with the Myers Briggs model by Julia McGuinessis a thorough investigation of each of the 16 'personality type' indicators from Myers Briggs workshops. We all have different personality types which show themselves in recognisable characteristics. Here, each is considered one at a time.

 

How the evangelise the Jesus way by Ross Pilkington is an old practical handbook, first published in 1977 as 'Life-style Evangelism'. This gives the basic description of the approach taken, with practical exercises throughout. Second hand copies are still available.

 

Jesus of Nazereth by Pope Benedict XVIis in two parts. The first book looks at the big picture of the life of Jesus, and 'the intimate relationship with Jesus on which everything else depends' (page xvi in the Foreword). The second book explores every step in the last week of Jesus life. These two books are academic, devotional, evangelistic - a rich resource.

 

Jesus the Evangelist by Robin Gambleis a great read and sets the foundation for the argument that Jesus is an Evangelist - indeed the greatest. This point is often argued by scholars, and here Robin cogently makes the case. 

 

Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth E Baileyis a study guide to reading the Gospels and preaching the gospel. All the passages are explored from their cultural context in the Middle East, rather than from a western viewpoint. Read this and you will often say 'Oh I see now'!

 

John for Everyone by Tom Wrightis part of the '... for Everyone' series of popular guides to the books of the New Testament. One commendation reads, ' Wright writes wonderfully, accessibly and as smooth as chocolate.' Tom Wright is a senior academic and major contributor to modern theological studies about Jesus.

 

Leaders Learning to Listen by Chris Edmondson is written for church ministers but applicable to all. How do we listen to our neighbour, people of other church traditions and from different faith communities. This is really helpful follow up material to my comments about two way communication.

 

Learning Evangelism from Jesus by Jerram Barrsis the other main book to 'Jesus the Evangelist' by Robin Gamble that I suggest is most helpful on the study of the gospel message in the Gospel books. Here Barrs takes 14 well known passages from the Gospels and expands all of them so we see how Jesus did his evangelism differently with each individual he met.

 

Liberal Evangelism by John Saxbee is a classic consideration of many questions to do with mission and evangelism. He says 'the central intellectual motive of liberal theology is to make the Christian faith intelligible and credible'. (p8) Here is a contribution that does just that.

 

Lost for Words by James Lawrence was a previous book by BRF about sharing faith. It accompanied a training course provided by CPAS - very helpful material for helping people tell their story.

 

Love Wins by Rob Bellis a clear exploration of heaven and hell from a biblical perspective. Denounced by some it has been welcomed by many for opening the door on the most difficult questions.

 

Meeting Jesus by Jeremy Duff and Joanna Collicutt McGrath looks at some of the best known Gospel passages like the Lost Sheep and the Prodigal Son, and examines what is going on in encountering Jesus, both then and now.

 

More ways than one by J John and others is a really helpful overview of different ways in which we can present the gospel, from preaching to social action, in signs and wonders and using humour. Each chapter is written by a different practitioner to make the point that their is more than one way.

 

Telling Our Faith Story by Janice Priceis a Grove booklet which does what it says on the tin! Here Janice takes the reader through exercises to see how 'my story' connects with 'God's story'.

 

The Biblical Foundations for Mission by Donald Senior and Carroll Stuhlmuelleris mentioned by me several times as still the best book about seeing mission in the biblical narrative. They take a different line to me about whether the 'universal missionary programme (p 142) was launched by Jesus as 'almost all of Jesus' universal mission commissions found in the Gospels are presented as post-Easter contexts' eg Mt 28 16-20. Perhaps this is the topic for another book!

 

The Challenge of Jesus by Tom Wrightis only one example of the many books by Tom Wright which look at Jesus and the Gospels. Here he considers questions around the crucifixion and resurrection. Tom Wright has written so much about Jesus there are even web and blog sites just about him and his writing. Google and find out!

 

The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ by Martin Hengelexplores how the word 'gospel' is used to describe both the message and the book. I write more about this on the web page 'Studying the Gospels' here.

 

The Gospel of Jesus by James M Robinson is a reconstruction of 'Q'. See my web page Studying the Gospels for an explanation here.

 

The Logic of Evangelism by William Abraham is a classic study of both he theory and practice of evangelism. Abraham takes a slightly different line to me in referring to four agents in the process of evangelism (I talk about three stories) - he suggests God / church / evangelist / other person. p 103/4.

 

Paradox in the Gospel? is a Grove booklet by me which looks at paradoxes in both the Gospel books (24 examples in Matthew) and evangelism. 

 

Paradoxes for Living by N Graham Standishhas the sub title, 'cultivating faith in confusing times'. Here you will find a thorough consideration of paradoxes in the Gospels, like 'to be strong you have to be weak', 'to save our lives we have to lose them, 'pain as the pathway to joy' etc.

 

Paradoxy by Tom Taylorlooks at the 'contradictions' of Jesus like, 'labour to rest', give to receive' and 'serve to reign'. This is a book for devotional and reflective reading, which includes meditations at the end of each chapter.

 

Personality Type and Scripture by Leslie J Francis is an exploration of issues to do with personality (using Myers Briggs), both in the characters and story of all the major readings in Mark's Gospel, and in our reading and interpretation of those readings today.

 

Sharing faith by Gavin Wakefieldand others is a previous title from BRF which again explores the 'Jesus way' - but this time building on the principle of God's mission as found in the Old Testament first. The hard lessons learnt by Jonah, for example are explored here. 

 

Sowing, Reaping, Keeping, by Laurence Singlehurstis about 'people sensitive evangelism' and is often quoted for its exploration of the 'Engel Scale'. I would say this is one of the more influential books on helping us understand 'process evangelism', obviously based the parable of the sower.

 

The Art of Connecting by Roy Crowne and Bill Muir is a handbook for young people to share their faith, and explores the art of connecting - and living - the three stories. Roy was very helpful in discussing this for Sharing faith the Jesus way.

 

The Liturgy after the Liturgy by Ion Bria is an Orthodox perspective on mission and witness, based on St John Chrysostom's comment that their are two altars, one within the sanctuary and one outside in the public square. Mission is about taking the gospel out. 

 

The Way of Paradox by Cypian Smithinspired my MA Dissertation and helped me explore the whole principle of paradox which starts on page 146 of 'Sharing faith the Jesus way'. I always read books and mark the margin - and in The Way of Paradox I wrote 'this is the most exciting book of theology I have every read'! You will understand why I then wrote the booklet 'Paradox in the Gospel?' for Grovebooks - www.grovebooks.co.uk

 

Word on the Wind by Alison Morganis so new I have not read it yet, but I want to refer to it here as it seems to take on where I left off. In Sharing faith the Jesus way I end with talking about the Holy Spirit, here Alison looks at how we communicate the 'word' by the 'Spirit'. If it is anything like as good as her 'Wild Gospel' book it will be brilliant.