The Gospel in Christian Traditions

The Gospel in Christian Traditions

The Gospel in Christian Traditions

The Gospel in Christian Traditions


Throughout the history of Christianity, there have been theological disputes that caused fissures among the faithful. There were the major ruptures of the Great Schism of 1054 and the Protestant Reformation. Since the Reformation, though, there has been an eruption of new denominations. The World Christian Database now list over 9000 worldwide. And new denominations are created every day, often when a group splits off from an established church because of a dispute over doctrine or leadership. With such a proliferation of denominations, could there possibly be one core Christianmessage that all churches share? That's the question that Ted Campbell sets out to answer in this book. He begins his examination of Christian doctrine where it started: in the gospels. He then shows how the gospel has been received and professed by Christian communities through the centuries, from the first "proto-Orthodox"Christian communities right through the modern evangelical, Pentecostal, and ecumenical movements. Campbell shows that, despite all the divisions, there is indeed a single unifying core of the faith that all Christians share. In the process, he offers a brief, well-written, and acceptable history of Christian doctrine that will be ideal for courses in the history of Christian thought.


Ted Campbell offers those of us involved in the life of Christian communities a rich gift in The Gospel in Christian Traditions. The gift is not like a fruit cake or a bottle of wine, something which we may or may not like the taste of. It is more like a set of tools or a box of mountain-climbing equipment: if we’re carpenters or mountain climbers, his book equips us to pursue our vocations.

That vocation, generally speaking, is the work of Christian ministry and mission, and in particular, the part of that work that takes place beyond the boundaries of the local congregation. If we were exclusively focused on ministry and mission within one local congregation and the denomination to which it belongs, we might be able to get along reasonably well without dealing with the issues Ted Campbell addresses.

But as soon as we venture outside a single local church or denomination, we find ourselves having to interact and cooperate with Christians of other traditions. We may be in an interdenominational seminary. We may be involved in some work of compassion and justice from caring for the homeless to standing against an unjust war or trade policy. We may be engaged in evangelism and the making of new disciples and communicating with the unchurched. Our interaction and collaboration will eventually bring up differences and even tensions in our traditions, challenging us to find the common ground that unites us. A book like the one you are now reading is invaluable in this regard.

Of course, even if we stay within one congregation, we realize that our church and denomination is not an island, that we exist as part of . . .

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