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The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What's So Good About the Good News?

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Jesus came preaching, but the church wound up preaching Jesus. Why does the church insist upon making Jesus the object of its attention rather than heeding his message ? Esteemed Harvard minister Peter J. Gomes believes that excessive focus on the Bible and doctrines about Jesus have led the Christian church astray. "What did Jesus preach?" asks Gomes. To recover the transformative power of the gospel—"the good news"—Gomes says we must go beyond the Bible and rediscover how to live out Jesus' original revolutionary message of "Dietrich Bonhoeffer once warned against cheap grace, and I warn now against cheap hope. Hope is not merely the optimistic view that somehow everything will turn out all right in the end if everyone just does as we do. Hope is the more rugged, the more muscular view that even if things don't turn out all right and aren't all right, we endure through and beyond the times that disappoint or threaten to destroy us." This gospel is offensive and always overturns the status quo, Gomes tells us. It's not good news for those who wish not to be disturbed, and today our churches resound with shrill speeches of fear and exclusivity or tepid retellings of a health-and-wealth gospel. With his unique blend of eloquence and insight, Gomes invites us to hear anew the radical nature of Jesus' message of hope and change. Using examples from ancient times as well as from modern pop culture, The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus shows us why the good news is every bit as relevant today as when it was first preached.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published November 1, 2007

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About the author

Peter J. Gomes

39 books27 followers
Born May 22, 1942, in Boston, Massachusetts from Cape Verdean parents, Gomes graduated from Bates College in 1965 and Harvard Divinity School in 1968. He also spent time at the University of Cambridge and is now an Honorary Fellow of Emmanuel College, where The Gomes Lectureship is established in his name. Gomes was ordained as an American Baptist minister by the First Baptist Church of Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1968. Gomes remains a member of First Baptist and occasionally preaches there. Since 1970, he has served in the Memorial Church of Harvard University; and since 1974 as Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church. Also at Harvard, he serves as faculty adviser of The Harvard Ichthus. Gomes is a leading expert on early American religion. He has been a visiting professor at Duke University as well as UNC-Chapel Hill. In 2008 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Westfield State College.

Widely regarded as one of America’s most distinguished preachers, Professor Gomes has fulfilled preaching and lecturing engagements throughout the United States and Great Britain. He was named Clergy of the Year in 1998 by Religion and American Life. His New York Times and national best-selling books, The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart and Sermons, the Book of Wisdom for Daily Living, were published by William Morrow & Company. He has published in total ten volumes of sermons, as well as numerous articles and papers.

His most recent work, The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus, includes extensive commentary and observation on the interrelations of Church and State throughout history and particularly in recent US history. On September 15, 2008 he appeared on The Colbert Report to promote his book. During this interview, he also states that he was baptized Catholic and claims gospels are "a dime a dozen."

Gomes surprised many when he revealed in 1991 that he is gay, and has since become an advocate for wider acceptance of homosexuality in American society. However, he has stated that he has remained celibate.

A lifelong Republican, Gomes offered prayers at the inaugurals of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. However, in August 2006 he moved his registration to Democrat, supporting the gubernatorial candidacy of Deval Patrick, who would later become the first African-American elected governor of Massachusetts. (Gomes, 2006) In 2008 Henry Louis Gates featured Gomes and his family on the PBS documentary African American Lives 2. A DNA test showed that Gomes is related to the Fulani, Tikar, and Hausa peoples of West Africa. Gomes is also descended from Portuguese Jews through his paternal grandfather who was born in the Cape Verde Islands

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 54 reviews
Profile Image for Bill.
219 reviews48 followers
March 2, 2020
The late Peter J. Gomes, the only black, gay, Republican, Baptist Minister of Harvard's Memorial Church with whom I am familiar, argues that most contemporary, church-going Christians would find the actual gospel of Jesus to be scandalous.
Most people do not go to church to be confronted with the gap between what they believe and practice and what their faith teaches and requires. One of the reasons that religious people are often cultural conservatives, and that cultural conservatives take comfort in religion, is that religion is seen to confirm the status quo.
In shocking contrast:
When Jesus came preaching, it was to proclaim the end of things as they are and the breaking in of things that are to be: the status quo is not to be criticized; it is to be destroyed. There is no appeal to an earlier Golden Age when things were done right, and the contemporary scene holds no promise, for it merely makes sacred the experiences of the people in power.
Gomes traces what he sees as the history of Christianity's distraction from Jesus's radical gospel in favor of a veneration of Jesus himself, a Pharisaical obsession with Biblical texts, and various flavors of Christian triumphalism that have resulted in the church becoming associated with temporal power, sometimes even becoming the dominant temporal power, and therefore too invested in the status quo.

Along the way, he "afflicts the comfortable", taking aim at spiritual arrogance wherever he sees it, definitely in the evangelical churches, but also in the mainline, Protestant community to which he belongs. His belief that "the most profound of all religious sentiments should not be certainty, which inevitably leads to arrogance, but modesty" resonates with me.

Although the author and some reviewers think that this book should appeal to readers of any or no faith, I think it will appeal mostly to mainline Protestant Christians, including those who've drifted away. I don't see how it could offer much to atheists, agnostics, members of non-Christian faith traditions, nor even Catholics or Orthodox Christians, and evangelical Christians will find much to take offense at.

I liked the book, which was a selection of a church-related book group I belong to, but have a couple of minor criticisms. Although some of Gomes's anecdotes were very effective in driving home points he was making, I think he stretched to fit others in so as to name drop, e.g. opening the book with a conversation he had with the Queen Mother. Also, there is a very heavy dose of traditional Protestant hymn lyrics that Gomes clearly loved, but might lose many readers.

Otherwise, I found Gomes's last book to be a thought-provoking call to Christians to focus on the challenge of Jesus's radical gospel instead of settling into complacent defense of a comfortable, church-going status quo.

The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What's So Good About the Good News?
Profile Image for John M.
12 reviews11 followers
January 10, 2009
(4.5 stars)

The essential criteria for good preaching -- and books by preachers -- are eloquence and edification, and not (as some think) a deep intellectual depth. Gomes satisfies all three, but his writing is saved from the dead language of a theological tome, and instead blessed with an authentic preacherly ability to express deep principles in understandable ways.

He makes the case forcefully and enthrallingly for the first half of the book, bubbling over with pristine prose never for a moment too verbose. "When Jesus came preaching," he claims, "it was to disturb the status quo." Thirty seconds sneezing through any Gospel makes this point clear enough, but somehow we've lost it -- because, as Gomes unashamedly claims, we've substituted Bible study for the Gospel. Tell that to your fat Baptist preacher.

The second half was too stretched out without the same density of poetic insights, breaking too often into poems or hymns, and at times giving little attention to concepts that deserve at least a little more attention -- e.g., conscience. This can be forgiven of him, but regrettably it keeps this review from the five-star rating the first half so clearly deserves in itself.

At heart, nonetheless, his message is extremely important: it is one of action, of applying learned concepts; the danger of the church of today is that of losing itself in self-assertive theological squabbles, neglecting (or never even realizing) the deepest points that spread over the entire Bible: love your neighbor, which means giving them money, time, and care. We need a mind like Gomes, if for no other reason than because he is interested in transcending the mind. Guaranteed terrifying reading for the neo-Pharisees who haunt every church corner and hide behind the words of the Word.

"The Bible is not the end of the Christian faith; rather, it is the point of departure, and I am convinced that it offers more good news than bad, and points away from itself ot what is called the gospel."
25 reviews
March 19, 2008
This was a good book, but not as much fun as I'd hoped. As usual, Gomes' turns of phrase are elegant and evoke his formal, slightly British preaching style. He has done an excellent job of mixing anecdotes and scholarship, while writing accessibly. I think what I wanted and didn't get was a richer portrait of Jesus-as-rebel. What I got instead was a rich analysis of the Christian church and how hard it may be to apply the principles developed as a minority underdog when one finds oneself holding all (or many) of the power cards. Fascinating. Interesting. Great sermon material. But not as compelling as I'd expected. It felt much more like work and much less like an engaging and relevant read. That probably has as much to do with my expectations as with the book itself, though.
Profile Image for Dan.
249 reviews
January 1, 2009
This book was disappointing on two levels. First, instead of the well-turned phrases I have grown to expect from Gomes, we get a work that substitutes extensive quotation of hymns and the writings of others for originality. I got the impression I was reading a school research paper on hymnody rather than an original work on the gospel. More importantly, after covering what the Bible is not in the first part and what it should be in the second, Gomes leaves the reader with very little of substance in the third section, which is purported to discuss "Where do we go from here?" In spite of my disappointment with the style of the first two parts I kept reading because I was hoping for some incite in the third part. Alas, it was the biggest let down of all.
Profile Image for Sam.
74 reviews9 followers
March 11, 2008
In this startlingly accurate depiction of Christianity Gomes asks, 'why are our religious organizations always the last to get behind social change and justice?'

Not only are they slow to promote social change but they have come to be the keepers of the status quo.
This is in stark contrast to what Jesus came to do, which was to disrupt it.

Christianity has thrived in western society but the societal problems that Jesus preached against are as bad as they have ever been.

So what is the 'good news' or 'gospel' that Jesus preached and why hasn't it transformed our God-fearing, Jesus-praising society?

What if our Christian churches spent less energy trying to stop the spread of evolution, abortion and homosexuality and put those efforts behind the rapid spread of poverty, disease and erosion of human dignity?

Gomes argues that we have exchanged the 'social gospel' (the emphasis on serving God's children) for a 'private piety' and 'personal salvation'.

I believe there is a Christ-like balance to be achieved between the two but that we have gone way too far in our quest for private piety. We Christians should go back to our book(s) of scripture to see what it actually was that Jesus taught and did.

We'll be surprised at how far we've strayed from the "good news."
Profile Image for Nikki.
1,939 reviews54 followers
May 30, 2008
The culmination of Gomes' trilogy which started with The Good Book, this book was pretty much preaching to the choir as far as I was concerned, so of course I liked it. Also, Gomes uses hymns to make his point a lot of the time, which was great. As a gay, liberal Christian, chaplain at "Godless Harvard," and consistently rated as one of America's best preachers, Gomes has a lot to offer. I particularly liked his differentiating between optimism and hope. My one quibble would be that he has a little too gloomy a view of the state of mainline churches in the US. If you read Christianity for the Rest of Us or simply go out and look, you can find many vital churches preaching and living out "The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus" already.
34 reviews1 follower
March 13, 2010
Not - What would Jesus Do?

But - What would Jesus have US do?

Profile Image for Mark Mitchell.
157 reviews1 follower
August 7, 2019
Jesus (and early Christians) were rebels, persecuted by both religious and civil authorities, and that Jesus challenged the status quo. One of Jesus’ central teachings was that we should not presume that one’s earthly status (wealth, power, etc.) is indicative of their heavenly future; instead, the last shall be first and the first last. But, Gomes argues, in an era where the church has become established, and, in fact, has become a part of the establishment, Christians have had a tendency to defend the status quo (slavery, segregation, etc.) rather than to honor the message of Christ. Gomes believes that we have become overly focused on the Bible, rather than on the Good News that Jesus brought; the Bible should be a way of leading us to the Good News, not an end in itself, and we should venerate Jesus’ preaching as much as we do Him.

The book is optimistic, in that Gomes believes that we should look forward rather than backwards; that, rather than trying to emulate the early churches, or preserve the traditions of today, we should honor the hope of the Lord’s Prayer that “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” On the other hand, the message is challenging; Gomes is critical of those who think themselves pious because they attend services, making donations, etc. He argues for a return to a social gospel, believing that Christians should be active in reducing injustice and suffering whether or not those afflicted are themselves Christian.

In keeping with Gomes statement that, at times, “[Jesus] comes not to comfort but to confront”, it would probably be difficult for most Christians to read Gomes’ book without finding themselves offended at times. There are things for everyone, regardless of denomination or philosophy, to find upsetting or disagreeable. All the more reason to read the book — especially given the extraordinary level of scholarship, clear writing, and enjoyable anecdotes.
Profile Image for Gary.
92 reviews8 followers
April 19, 2019
This, the last book Rev Peter Gomes wrote before his death, is very accessible yet approaches the Bible from an atypical perspective. the Bible, he says, is not a book but a library containing different books written at different times, by different authors, to respond to concerns of different times. This, he says, explains the many internal contradictions in the Bible, contradictions and inconsistencies that have lead to endless and sometime violent disputes among Christians. To Gomes there is an important distinction between the Bible and the gospel. The Bible is a printed document from times past. The gospel is the good news about ourselves and the future. Gomes' gospel is very much rooted in time, time that has a beginning and and ending. The good news is that in the fullness of time we and our descendants can make our lives and those of others better, and that at the end of time the kingdom of God will come to be.

The gospel that Gomes preaches (he self-identifies as a preacher) is a social gospel. It is incumbent on followers of Jesus to aid the afflicted, to remedy injustice, to love others not just in spirit but also in action. He is critical of the latest iteration of Christian fundamentalism and what he sees as its obsessive focus on homosexuality and abortion, neither of which are touched on in the Bible. The anger and fear stoked by certain so-called evangelical preachers are the antithesis of Gome's good news.
Profile Image for Damon Gray.
Author 1 book1 follower
March 8, 2020
In this book, Gomes attempts to make the case that the majority if current-generation, church-going Christians would find the "true" gospel of Jesus scandalously offensive. Gomes believed most church-goers are comfortable with their faith as it is (likely so) and therefore have no desire to confront hear about the divide between the life they are living and the life the gospel requires. In Gomes' view, Jesus established a new paradigm, intentionally disturbing the status-quo, and it seems Gomes believes the same needs to happen today in a church system where we have replaced the gospel with studying the Bible.

While not aligning completely with Gomes as he argued these points, many of his arguments were valid, and the work merited reading further. Sadly, the further I read, the worse it got. Gomes veered into endless hymnology, poetry, and name-dropping that I found rather off-putting. By the time we reached the "where do we go from here" section of Gomes' work, I couldn't wait for it to end.
Profile Image for papasteve.
630 reviews8 followers
April 6, 2020
In many ways, this book is too late for me. Recently retired after 40 years of ministry, I wish I would have read this book back then. My preaching may have been more engaging, more relevant. And my teaching more confrontational. And my understanding of the gospel more solid. But, alas, I couldn’t have read this back then because it didn’t exist. So, now what do I do? Get together with other old farts and talk about what we should have done if we had only known? Decried the way our seminaries were caught up in the fashion of the day, and how we had to discard our unfashionable “clothes” of insipid theology time and time again? Wished we hadn’t fallen into the trap our parishioners laid before us over and over to be the one with all the answers, rather than the one with all the proper questions? Maybe the best use of this book for us “of a certain age” is to shove it in front of the eyes of younger pastors starting out, and then mentoring them along the way—to help give them the solid start most of us never had.
Profile Image for Judy.
1,002 reviews
September 25, 2023
There is so much to love about this book. Gomes was the Pastor at Harvard University Memorial Church and a much respected historian. His premise is a question: Why does the church preach so much about Jesus and the Bible when what we ought to be teaching is the Gospel--what Jesus taught. Not what Jesus would do but what he would have us do. He talks about the gospel of fear, conflict and the call for Christians to be nonconformists. He closes with chapters on inclusiveness and hope.
Profile Image for Doug.
363 reviews7 followers
January 30, 2021
This was Peter Gomes' last book. It is intended to be the conclusion of his three part work after "The Good Book"and "The Good Life." The title was suggested by his publisher. His preferred title was to have been, "The Good News." It's based on the premise that focusing on worshiping Christ can substitute doing what Christ taught in the gospels. He peppers this work with numerous quotes from theologians, preachers, academics and historical figures as he often did. I appreciate his approach and loving spirit which shine through all his books.
Profile Image for Roger Miller.
439 reviews24 followers
October 15, 2020
Very few liberal and social justice authors challenge me, but Peter J. Gomes does. Very seldom do I read books twice, but I am committed to reading this again. I listened to this audibly, and the author's reading left me gasping for air. Peter often got the hermeneutics and the spirit of Jesus right. Still not convinced he got his politics right, but it's smart, challenging and engaging.
1,257 reviews17 followers
November 27, 2022
I found this book, interesting, puzzling, stimulating, inspiring. I read it slowly over months (the luxury of owning) and it was a great meditation for me.
His essay on Paul to the Galatians puzzled me a bit but I understand, I think, what he was trying to say to the reader.
Highly recommend.
1,142 reviews
August 4, 2020
In the second page, the author reminds us “The Bible …is a complicated collection of books, written by many hands over many years and in a wide variety of media, including poetry, history, parable, theology and apocalypse. (p. 2) A few pages later, he tells us that the Bible can be read as a “….textbook for the status quo, a book of quiescent pieties and promises, or it is a recipe for social change and transformation. “ (12)

He wants to take the reader in some new ways to make sense of the Bible, with a very strong focus on the life and words of Jesus and his followers.

The book was published 13 years ago. The author, an established academic at Harvard and a minister, gives us significant stances in understanding the Bible. He says “The last thing faithful wish for is to be disturbed.” (19) He sets about to do making people disturbed about what we think about faith.

As a faculty member at the Harvard seminary, one of his roles has been to prepare would-be students to preach in a new way. He focuses on how we read the stories about Jesus. “The gospel can easily be lost in the Bible. It was not so with Jesus, for he found the Hebrew Bible – the only one he knew—the made the Gospel.” (20) Jesus’ message was ‘….if you want to know who I am, see what I do.” This becomes the major principle of the book.” At the same he says there is nothing simple and pure about the
Gospel (29)

Jesus was an agent of change, preaching a moral discourse of the day. (47) This means that the people of God are on the outside of the prevailing culture.

He has a good skill of mixing the language of today with the Bible. For example,
“The question is not What Would Jesus Do? Or “What Wants Me to Do?” (69)
The claim is that Karl Marx objective Christianity not b because it was untrue but because it did not live out its own truth. (70)

In second section, he links the Gospel with the Conventional. We read “It is dangerous, even heretical, notion that Christians, even faithful Christians, have a right to expect a turmoil-free existence …….. (96) And on page 97 we read “How easy it is to forget that we worship God not because of what he does for us but because of who he is It is bad that we live by our fears and not our hopes. " (105) His advice to all Christians is to “…act justly, love loyalty, [and] walk humbly with your God.”

In Chapter 7 (The Gospel and the Future) focuses on evangelicals. (137) There’s some humor (or maybe at least some smiling while reading) in "Getting into Wrong.” (143) There’s a discussion of what to expect about heaven. (150) When we learn all about God and we see him in full live, we will be surprised at the “…capacious generosity of God.” (155)

He was thinking how we would understand and how we use our faith in the current world we have.
In Section 3 there's a section " titled Where Do We Go from Here? It has some references to the challenges of giving sermons (which must prepare for as much as the writing the sermon). The book has plenty of insightful and aha moment as he tells us his experience of speaking on MLK Day breakfast presentation. (161)

There’s an insightful chapter about social gospel and a chapter is “An Inclusive Gospel” (187) And takes on sexism (190 ff)

He also poses question that believers may not have thought or Christ. For example: From what has Christ set us free? (201) And he tells us to look beyond the intellectual approach to Christianity: ��The key to God’s will for the church is not found in text or history, but rather by reverent and radical listening to what the Spirit has to say to the churches….” (205)

The book would be useful for church groups on all types for a study group. It is also a book to read alone as a way to understand and growth faith.
Profile Image for Greg Dill.
703 reviews17 followers
September 19, 2015
Good, but not great. The ramblings of a liberal Christian. And, I don't say this in a negative way, for I myself am liberal in many views. Made for a good read, but I thought the book lost it's luster towards the end as it seemed to become rather repetitive on the same issues (oppression, racism, counter-culture, etc). Although there was some good insight into the teachings of Christ, I didn't think Gomes offered anything new and fresh. I thought there was an over abundance of quotes taken from old hymns that I simply couldn't understand much in the same way I cannot understand Old King James English.

Although liberal on many views I still remain conservative on the issue of homosexuality.... seemingly a highly emphasized issue throughout this book. While I agree wholeheartedly with Gomes that homosexuals should be included in the church, be allowed to serve, and even take on leadership positions, I still maintain that homosexuality is a sin. A sin, like all others that must be confessed, repented from, and dealt with. This does not mean it will be conquered, but action must be taken by the individual to fight it and strive towards victory to defeat it.

I applaud Gomes for his stand for pacifism and inclusiveness, and his stand against biblicism and religious fundamentalism. I also enjoyed his personal stories of meeting famous people throughout his lifetime. And, I appreciated his knowledge of early American religious history for which he frequently alluded to throughout this book. Here are a few quotes taken from "The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus" that resonated with me the most:

"That the image of martyrs, the suffering faithful, and oppressed witnesses to the truth does not seem to be the prevailing images of Christians in the world either in ancient or modern times serves to demonstrate the sad fact that conformity is a greater characteristic of the Christian community than nonconformity." (page 47)

"God is greater and more generous than the best of those who profess to know and serve him." (page 63)

"Perhaps the greatest tragedy of September 11th, 2001, and the life we have come to live in its aftermath, is that we have since been programmed to live by our fears and not by our hopes." (page 104)

"Quoting John Newton: When I get to heaven, I shall see three wonders there. the first wonder will be to see any people there whom I did not expect to see; the second wonder will be to miss many people whom I did expect to see; and the third and greatest wonder of all will be to find myself there." (page 153)

"The means that allows the winds of change to blow through the corridors of conformity is the powerful work of the Spirit, that third member of the trinity that makes the church a slave neither to history nor to the moment , but rather an agency of transformation." (page 204)
Profile Image for David.
198 reviews21 followers
April 10, 2008
Harvard chaplain Gomes does a fine job of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted in this eloquent call to look beyond Jesus as personal savior, and to learn from and realize his demanding teachings. Gomes calls for a return to the vigorous, active social gospel exemplified by Martin Luther King Jr. and the Salvation Army, a religion working towards salvation in this world rather than the next, and that finds loving one’s neighbor incompatible with gated communities and a winner-take-all, materialist theology. Gomes reminds us that the scriptural Jesus – more radical than liberal - would hardly know what to make of the condemnation of homosexuality (which he never mentions) so prevalent among right-wing evangelicals, who are quick to cite the sanctity of marriage even as they blithely ignore Christ’s own explicit precepts against divorce. While the persuasive force of Gomes’ words is hardly lessened by Patrick Lawlor’s mostly serviceable and intelligent reading, it is hard to understand why the author, a gifted preacher with a wonderful voice and delivery, wasn’t enlisted to breathe life into his own spirited words. Still this is a worthwhile purchase for most libraries, and should prove a thought-provoking listen for faithful and non-believers alike, in states red and blue.
1,123 reviews23 followers
February 26, 2014
Packed with theology from old hymns and quotes from people he likes, this collections of his thoughts from high in his ivory tower at Harvard, this final book from Mr. Gomes tells us where we all got everything wrong.

I should appreciate more a person who has 33 honorary degrees; is an honorary Fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge; has a lectureship named for him there; and was minister of Harvard's Memorial Church for over 30 years. He has rubbed elbows with the religious greats of the 20/21st Centuries and been published extensively until his death in 2010. Lauded by both secular and religious press, he is considered a giant in his field.

His first chapter sets the tone of the rest of the book: ministers are timid to preach the good news and their congregations don't want to be discomfited by it so the status quo remains and we all go merrily along with business as usual.

What he never considers is how all the denominations he is part of- American Baptist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, etc.- all have shrinking populations. He discusses how Harvard has vigorously recruited people of many cultures and religions, but never acknowledges that what we used to call main line churches are disappearing before our eyes, and so is the former target audience for schools like Harvard.

Too bad he did not quote Phyllis Tickle on the Emergent Church.
Profile Image for Grady Ormsby.
473 reviews17 followers
February 21, 2012
No finger-wagging, dogmatic pomposity here. Esteemed Harvard minister Peter J. Gomes shares his view of Jesus and the Gospel.

I've often felt that the problem with the Protestant Reformation is that they quit protesting and quit reforming. Now it seems Christianity has crystallized into a narrow, exclusive, moralistic monolith similar the the Roman Catholic Church that was the target of reform.

Gomes offers a refreshing look not at Jesus, but at what Jesus taught. He begins by reminding us that early Christianity was by necessity nonconformist. It required courage to step outside the current conventional wisdom. Authoritarian fidelity runs off the tracks when authority is questioned.

Other themes include that Jesus focused on love, not fear. Jesus taught that God's love is inclusive with no exceptions. Jesus taught a gospel of hope. Jesus' message is one that looks to the future not bound by traditions and slavery to the meanness of literalism.

With a theology of love, openness, compassion and freedom I could almost start going back to church. Almost.
Profile Image for Marcus.
44 reviews
August 8, 2009
Gomes is always entertaining... but I don't quite get the point of what he's trying to say with this one. Of course, I chalk it up to the fact that I read such a diff. genre of religious literature these days, and this is unusual for me. But he's got some interesting lines and an interesting forepoint: people need to move beyond their sanctity for Scripture so they can read what it actually says.

Should be a quick read for you genius types... I'm almost done with it myself.

night of 8.7.09:
Ok, update... I finally finished the book. And, I must say, it's alright, worth reading I suppose. His concluding chapter is really a decent summary of what took him so many pages to say. Unfortunately, much of the book is redundant and storytelling and hymn-quoting. Otherwise, it's alright with me... not great, but cool.
Profile Image for Chip.
278 reviews
September 13, 2009
Re-validates me when I'm feeling oppressed by the "stadium-seating worship arena seating 10,000 people megachurch" Christianity-lite that passes for spirituality in my part of the woods today. "WWJD" if he wandered into one of these corporate churches? He would be appalled. Christianity today has gotten so far removed from Christ that He wouldn't recognize it. "Church" has become synonymous with "entertainment" instead of "spiritual instruction" and Christianity must renew itself with spreading the Gospel rather than by bragging about the size of their sanctuaries and bank accounts. I firmly believe the government should tax "country-club churches" and maybe they'll get back to their roots...

Good book for rekindling faith and restoring hope that Christianity will once again be recognizably Christ-like.
Profile Image for Sandy.
384 reviews10 followers
June 7, 2009
This is the first Gomes I've read and I liked it. I'm also reading Shane Claiborne's Irresistable Revolution at the same time and I was struck by how much they had in common. Gomes is more of an older, intellectual version of Claiborne's radical hippy themes. Both talk a lot about how the church has become the defender of the status quo and we've lost sight of the truly radical things the gospel actually calls us to do. I'd like to put Claiborne and Gomes in the same room and just be a fly on the wall for the conversation. I'm looking forward to reading more Gomes.
Profile Image for Wil Roese.
88 reviews16 followers
September 12, 2010
By the Gospel, Peter Gomes means the social gossip. The irony is that while he belittles fundamentalist for interpreting the bible literally, he interprets the sayings of Jesus literally to justify his insistence on the social gossip. I felt somewhat embarrassed for Dr. Gomes constant need to drop in stories that happen to show how great he is. He lets us know he meet the Queen Mother, received an honorary degree and mentions his relation to Harvard at least a dozen times. He should take the best advice in the book that he borrowed from Paul Tillich and accept the fact he is accepted and maybe he wont feel the need to impress his readers so much.
Profile Image for Joe Henry.
168 reviews28 followers
January 14, 2011
We read/discussed this in our Sunday School class. It was a good read for me. To me, Gomes stands/writes in the best tradition of the prophets, (probably more “traditional” than I, but…) eloquently and effectively speaking the truth, as he sees it…not one for pulling punches or sugar-coating his analysis.

The book is organized in three parts:
1. The Trouble with the Scripture, where he speaks of “an offending gospel” and the “risks of nonconformity,”
2. The Gospel and the Conventional Wisdom, where he speaks of (the gospel and…) fear, conflict, and the future.
3. Where Do We Go from Here?, where he speaks of a social gospel, an inclusive gospel, and a gospel of hope.
Profile Image for Paul Dinger.
1,075 reviews30 followers
June 30, 2010
I have to admit that while I didn't follow a lot of his reasoning, I did enjoy the way he wrote it. Gomes has a wonderful, almost sermonesque way of writing that seems so natural and unforced, but you know it wasn't. This is a book about AGAPE which means impossible love. It is at the heart of the social gospel which is what he is concerned with. As a Christian, I did enjoy this book and found a lot of it informative, even challenging. However, it's conclusions were a little too vague. Still, I recommend it. My church book club really enjoyed it.
9 reviews
January 28, 2008
Conservative Christians may not like what Rev. Gomes is saying (look at what He says and act on it) nor the fact that he's even saying it (he's openly gay). Gomes, a longtime minister and Harvard professor, calls for a return to the social gospel in vogue until the 1970s.
Profile Image for Eva.
16 reviews
March 11, 2009
Absolutely, totally brilliant. One of the greatest theologians of our time. However, it can draggg a little in places and get a little impenetrable. However, the quality of ideas and the challenge presented to people of faith is so great it still wins 4 stars from me.
Profile Image for Susan.
184 reviews
July 8, 2009
This book reinforced my Christian beliefs. Gomes wraps up nicely how one can be a social liberal and still be a Christian. I would like to read his other books. Bible scholars will probably not be interested in this book because Gomes does not do an in depth study of scripture.
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