Comprehensive Gospel,
Comprehensive Mission
Michael Goheen
Burnaby, B.C.
Good news of the kingdom
The time has come. The
kingdom of God is near.
Repent and believe the
good news!
Mark 1.15
Headline news!
God is acting in love and
power in Jesus by the Spirit
to restore the whole creation
and all of human life to again
live under His gracious rule.
Observations on the gospel
It is the climactic moment of long
story of universal history
Fox and the Crow
A fox compliments
a crow: “My you
have a lovely voice;
won’t you sing me a
What is the meaning
of this event?
Fox and the Crow
The crow sits perched high
in a tree with a piece of
meat. There is a famine in
the forest and all the
animals use different
strategies in an attempt to
get the meat. The fox
compliments the crow. It
opens its mouth; the meat
falls out and the fox runs
away with it.
Don’t be deceived by
Human Life Shaped by Story
“The way we understand human
life depends on what conception
we have of the human story. What
is the real story of which my life
story is part?” (Newbigin)
“. . . a story . . . is . . . the best
way of talking about the way the
world actually is.” (Wright)
Bible tells story of world
“ . . . the whole point of
Christianity is that it
offers a story which is
the story of the whole
world. It is public truth”
Hindu’s Comment
I can’t understand why you missionaries
present the Bible to us in India as a book of
religion. It is not a book of religion–and
anyway we have plenty of books of religion
in India. We don’t need any more! I find in
your Bible a unique interpretation of
universal history, the history of the whole of
creation and the history of the human race.
And therefore a unique interpretation of the
human person as a responsible actor in
history. That is unique. There is nothing
else in the whole religious literature of the
world to put alongside it (Badrinath).
Bible as universal history
 Normative:
 Universal: True for all people
 Comprehensive: Give
meaning to all of human life
Observations on the gospel
It is the climactic moment of long
story of universal history
Goal of the story—salvation:
Comprehensive scope
God’s Response to Sin
While justly angry, God did not
turn away from a world bent on
destruction but turned to face it in
love. With patience and tender
care the Lord set out on the long
road of redemption to reclaim the
lost as his people and the world as
his kingdom (Our World Belongs to
God, 18).
God’s Mission: Restoration
“The Bible renders to us the story of
God’s mission through God’s people
in their engagement with God’s
world for the sake of the whole of
God’s creation.” (C. Wright)
God’s mission: Restore whole
creation and bodily life of
Biblical Story as Six Act Drama
ACT ONE God Creates His Kingdom:
ACT TWO Rebellion in the Kingdom: Fall
ACT THREE The King Chooses Israel:
Redemption Initiated
ACT FOUR The Coming of the King:
Redemption Accomplished
ACT FIVE Spreading the News of the King:
The Mission of the Church
ACT SIX The Return of the King:
Redemption Completed
Observations on the gospel
It is the climactic moment of long
story of universal history
Goal of the story—salvation:
God is acting climactically in history
Comprehensive scope
Announcement that God’s power to heal
and restore is breaking into history
In the person and events of Jesus
Reveals and accomplishes restoration
Church’s mission is the historical logic
of the gospel
Comprehensive gospel,
comprehensive mission
If the gospel is
comprehensive in scope,
then the church’s mission is
as wide as creation!
Not one square inch!
There is not one square inch of the
entire domain of human life of
which Christ, the rightful Lord over
all, does not proclaim: “This is
Mine!” (Abraham Kuyper)
Our World Belongs to God:
Comprehensive mission of church
The Spirit thrusts God’s people into worldwide mission.
He impels young and old, men and women,
to go next door and far away
into science and art, media and marketplace
with the good news of God’s grace. . . . (32)
Following the apostles, the church is sent—
sent with the gospel of the kingdom . . .
In a world estranged from God,
where millions face confusing choices,
this mission is central to our being . . . (44)
The rule of Jesus Christ covers the whole world.
To follow this Lord is to serve him everywhere,
without fitting in,
as light in the darkness, as salt in a spoiling world. (45)
Continuing the Kingdom Mission of
Announced kingdom with his words
Demonstrated kingdom with his deeds
Embodied the kingdom in his life
Challenged idolatry stood against kingdom
Sought justice of kingdom for those
marginalised by unjust structures
Prayed for coming of kingdom
Formed kingdom community
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending
you.” (Jn. 20.21)
Truncated Gospel,
Truncated Mission
IVCF, Calgary
Michael Goheen
Burnaby, B.C.
Clash of stories
In our contemporary culture . . . two quite
different stories are told. One is the story of
evolution, of the development of the species
through the survival of the strong, and the story
of the rise of civilization, our type of civilization,
and its success in giving humankind mastery of
nature. The other story is the one embodied in
the Bible, the story of creation and fall, of God’s
election of a people to be the bearers of his
purpose for humankind, and of the coming of
the one in whom that purpose is to be fulfilled.
These are two different and incompatible stories
Missionary Encounter
Normal position of church in cultural
context if church is faithful
Clash of ultimate and comprehensive
Requires church that believes gospel and
is committed to shaping whole life by it
Offers credible alternative
Call for conversion
Encounter takes place in every sphere of
Claimed and counterclaimed
‘There is no neutral ground in the
universe: every square inch, every
split second, is claimed by God and
counterclaimed by Satan.’ (CS
Conversion of West at the
E u ro p ea n
E u ro p ea n
C h riste nd om
S c ie n tific
H u m a n ism
So c ie ty
So c ie ty
Narrowing of Salvation
The early Christian belief [i.e.,Scriptural
belief] that the Fall and Redemption
pertained not just to man, but to the
entire cosmos, a doctrine already fading
after the Reformation, now [under
secularism of 19th c.] disappeared
altogether: the process of salvation, if it
had any meaning at all, pertained solely
to the personal relation between God
and man (Richard Tarnas).
Narrowing of Salvation
Ever since the Enlightenment, western culture
has found it difficult to articulate a clear and
compelling vision of God’s relationship to the
world. In reaction to the Enlightenment, the
theological stream of pietism has tended to
confine the presence and action of God to the
interior subjectivities of the individual
believers: “You ask me how I know he lives?
He lives within my heart!” . . . Since we find
ourselves in a scientific, rationalistic,
technologically driven society that leaves little
room for God, it is simpler and more
accessible to shift the focus to human
experience instead (James Brownson et al.)
Fact-Value Dichotomy
T ruth
C laim s
O pinions
V alues
P rivate
B elieve
T ruth
P ublic
K now
Truncated Gospel
Otherworldly salvation
Future salvation
Individual salvation
Truncated Mission
I look at this world as a wrecked
vessel. God has given me a lifeboat,
and said to me, “Moody, save all you
can. God will come in judgement and
burn up this world . . . The world is
getting darker and darker; its ruin is
coming nearer and nearer. If you
have any friends on this wreck
unsaved, you had better lose no time
in getting them off.” (DL Moody)
Important Issues at Stake!
Recovery of comprehensive gospel
Recovery of who Jesus is
Recovery of comprehensive mission
Can notion of ‘worldview’ help?
Worldview: Recovering a
comprehensive gospel and mission
Worldview first arose in German
philosophy (weltanschauung)
Introduced into North America by
James Orr and Abraham Kuyper
Made popular by Carl F.H. Henry,
Francis Schaeffer, Al Wolters, Brian
Walsh and Richard Middleton,
James Sire, Arthur Holmes, and
Need for Worldview
No one, I think, whose eyes are open to the
signs of the times, can fail to perceive that if
Christianity is to be effectually defended from
the attacks made upon it, it is the
comprehensive method that is rapidly becoming
the more urgent. The opposition which
Christianity has to encounter is no longer
confined to special doctrines . . . but extends to
the whole manner of conceiving the world. . . .
It is no longer an opposition of detail, but of
principle. The circumstance necessitates an
equal extension of the line of defence. It is the
Christian view of things in general which is
attacked, and it is by an exposition and
vindication of the Christian view of things as a
whole that the attack can most successfully be
met (James Orr).
Need for Worldview
If the battle is to be fought with
honour and with a hope of victory,
then principle must be arrayed
against principle; then it must be felt
that in Modernism the vast energy of
an all-embracing life system assails
us, then also it must be understood
that we have to take our stand in a
life system of equally comprehensive
and far-reaching power. (Abraham
Agreement between Orr and Kuyper
Christianity has a unified and comprehensive
worldview derived from a central belief
Modern worldview is a unified and comprehensive
vision of the world (universal story) that also derives
from central belief, is fundamentally religious, is
embodied in forms of life and activity, and is
antithetical to Christianity
Christianity’s only defence against the power of
comprehensive modern worldview is to develop an
equally comprehensive worldview.
This worldview has bearing not only on the religious
(theological, ecclesiological) sphere but on the whole
of cultural life.
Worldview Studies
Biblical story with centre in
comprehensive gospel
Central storyline of Bible
Western story as comprehensive
vision of life
Encounter between stories: Living
at the crossroads
Involves embracing true insights
and challenging idolatry
Neglected Themes
Suffering involved in encounter
 Need for vital spirituality
 Need for vibrant community

Comprehensive Gospel, Comprehensive Mission