The BSoF continues thusly:
We trust in Jesus Christ,
fully human, fully God.
Jesus proclaimed the reign of God:
preaching good news to the poor
and release to the captives,
teaching by word and deed
and blessing the children,
healing the sick
and binding up the brokenhearted,
eating with outcasts,
and calling all to repent and believe the gospel.
Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition,
Jesus was crucified,
suffering the depths of human pain
and giving his life for the sins of the world.
God raised this Jesus from the dead,
vindicating his sinless life,
breaking the power of sin and evil,
delivering us from death to live eternal.
Hmm…interesting. No substitutionary atonement at all. Who would’ve thought?
This article about Jesus Christ has a lot of strengths, not the least of which is the focus on Christ’s life and ministry. I think that some theologies fall into the trap of implicating that it is the purpose of life to die – that we are just waiting for our emigration to Heaven. Here, however, this Statement indicates that the purpose of life is to be alive. Christ’s resurrection vindicates his sinless life, defeats death, and brings eternal life. Heaven and Hell aren’t even mentioned in the whole equation, and that’s fine with me.
Another strength is that it talks about Jesus forgiving sinners and calling on people to believe the gospel and repent – while he was alive and in the world. First, this means that Jesus had the power to forgive sinners before he died and was resurrected. That implies that his death was not necessary to abrogate some sort of infinite penalty for sin. Jesus could forgive, and did so in the Gospels, and presumably can continue to do so.
Second, this means that the content of the Gospel was not necessarily limited only to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Rather, it was “the reign of God” that Jesus proclaimed, typified by his words and actions in the world among the poor, captives, children, sick, outcasts, sinners etc. Jesus’ resurrection, in this brief statement, is the vindication of his sinless life and his victory over sin and evil.
This brings to mind an interesting question brought in one of my classes (and in other places as well). The question is: as Christians, do we proclaim Christ, or do we proclaim what Christ proclaimed? A little simplistic, but I think still an important question to have in mind.