I chose to write on this topic as something of an unofficial tie-in to this year's Christian Vision Project theme on the gospel, which poses the simple question, "Is our gospel too small?" The project has already generated some thoughtful reflections from Richard Mouw, Scot McKnight and others. Check them out. At any rate, here's part of my article:
A Multifaceted Gospel
Why evangelicals shouldn't be threatened by new tellings of the Good News.
At the 2006 Ancient Evangelical Future conference, historian Martin Marty commented briefly on the Atonement theories proposed by the early church. Did the church fathers hold to penal substitution, Christus Victor, or Anselm's view of the Atonement? Yes. All of the above.
Panelists pressed Marty to declare one view or another the "right" one. Whatever one thinks, he responded, the reality is that the church held to multiple versions.The same is true today, in evangelical thinking about the nature of the gospel. . . . Some focus on a change of heart, mind, or direction; others major on judgment or conviction of sin. Some speak about the promise of new life, now and eternally; others stress individual transformation or societal and cosmic renewal. We need all of the above.
[The full article is available here. And by the way, I blogged some time ago about the Martin Marty talk that I reference in the column; that post is available here, and it unpacks further what Marty said at the conference and my own take and application of it.]