I have been toying with the idea of asking this question, and a comment on another post from a fellow whose "faith disappeared long ago," has become the catalyst for posing this question.
If someone who didn't really know Christianity - say your unchurched neighbor or your Buddhist colleague at work - asked you, "what is it, basically, that you Christians believe about Jesus?" What would you say? We just finished Easter season, with it's daily readings from the Acts of the Apostles, and so we've heard snippets of what the early Christian preachers said to their audiences. For example, we have this from the story of the conversion of the centurion, Cornelius, and his family (Acts 10:34-48):
34 Then Peter proceeded to speak and said, "In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
35 Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.
36 You know the word (that) he sent to the Israelites as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all,
37 what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached,
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
39 We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and (in) Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.
40 This man God raised (on) the third day and granted that he be visible,
41 not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
42 He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.
43 To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name."
And this gem from St. Paul, who obviously thought that the cross, which normally brought tremendous shame upon the crucified and his or her family, was the heart of the Christian message.
14 But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
15 For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation.
What do you think are some of the essential points of the Christian faith having to do with the suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, as well as his sending of the Holy Spirit? And not just the main points, but their significance. What does it mean when St. Paul tells the Romans, "For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." Rom 5:6-8
In other words, what do you think are elements of the basic Gospel message (kerygma) that Christians need to know and proclaim in order to invite people to conversion to Jesus and membership in His body, the Church?
I'll keep track of what you come up with and show you your progress from day to day. Here are some groundrules:
1. be serious, please
2. you can quote passages from the scriptures, but give a brief explanation of what you believe it means.
3. If the point's been made by someone else, don't make it again. However, if you think the explanation is deficient, please supply another explanation.
4. You can make as many points as you like; only one, or your description of the whole kerygma that must be proclaimed.
Thanks for your help.
By the way, thanks, Mike10613!