Monday, April 19, 2010

Abp. Okoh's opening address at Global South Encounter

You can never go wrong when you title your opening address, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ."
In all this one thing is clear: the Gospel is centred around the activity of God in Christ as the way of redemption and salvation for humanity and indeed for all of creation (Rom. 8:19ff). “Christ or God is both the content and author of the Gospel.” In other words, the Christ – event is the Gospel; and Jesus Christ is the messenger, the author and the message itself. Here the initiative to reconcile is God’s and
“As a result of Christ’s undoing the damage caused by the primordial rebellion, trespasses are cancelled” (Rom. 4:8).
And spreading the message of reconciliation with all its attendant imperatives in the area of human need becomes the mandate of the ministry of the new people of God.

I intend to say something about the Gospel by way of introduction, touch on the theme of the suffering servant visa-vis the nation, and isolate certain motifs of the Gospel for comment. The advantage of this approach is that it will give more opportunity/space for the Gospel to critique the old and new Israel, the latter the Anglican brand of it. Originally, euangelion means the reward received by the messenger of victory. Then, it came to mean the message itself, the message of victory. It is however in the imperial cult that euangelion acquires a religious meaning, for instance, the decree of the Greeks of the Province of Asia in c.9 BC marking the birthday of Augustus (23 September) the beginning of the civil year. The proclamation heralds:

i) A new era

ii) Brings it about also. There is therefore a very strong connection in between this Hellenistic usage, especially in the imperial cult and its usage in the New Testament.
The Gospel, the good news has roots on the Old Testament – 2 Sam. 4:10 “reward for good news”, 2 Sam. 18:20, 22 (glad tidings).
More significantly is the Hebrew bissar, (the verb euangelizomai to announce, tell, publish, eg. I Kg. 1:42, Jer 20: 15). We learn that this verb is the term used in the Pss. 40:9(10); 68:11(12); 96:2ff and Isaiah 41:27 and 52:7 to herald Yahweh’s universal victory over the world and his kingly rule, and so begins a new era. “This ‘Gospel’ is effective speech, a powerful saying, a word which brings its own fulfilment. In the mouth of his messenger God Himself speaks: He speaks and it is accomplished; He commands and it is done”
The whole address is here.