Dr. R.C. Sproul on”What is the Gospel?”

Dr. Sproul was one of my professors at RTS, Jackson, MS. I always found his lectures lively and informative – he was a great communicator….
But after nearly 40 years of reflection I have come to a place where I now “see” how the entire issue of “the Gospel” (as understood by Calvinists) is couched in and conditioned by the historical “accidents” of that period – and that trying to keep this perspective alive fails to consider that the reformers may have been playing the wrong “language game” in their contentious dialog with the Roman church.
In other words, given a different set of premises and presuppositions (than that of 16th century Thomism) – we might find ourselves closer to the truth when taking into account what we now know about second-temple Judaism, etc.
And what if the reformers had entered into a more profitable dialogue with the Eastern church? There the issues of the Gospel are addressed far less forensically – and far more ontologically. The central issue that the Gospel addresses is not (just) the legal violation of God’s laws and character – but the deeper issues of human nature – and our debt to the law of sin and death. For such as Athanasius – this is foundationally addressed not first in the cross – but in the incarnation: God enters into solidarity with humanity to change and save us from the depths. Jesus IS our salvation – his person and works are inseparable – His death becomes OUR death – His Resurrection OUR resurrection… As the Torrances so wonderfully taught, we move from a forensic, legal, external, contractual understanding of the Gospel to one that is deeply filial, relational and ontological: we really do become the righteousness of God in Christ! (2 Cor. 5:21) because God really does Love us – and has acted unilaterally to bring about our justification – even while we still His enemies (Romans 5).

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