‘I have asked before (and will keep asking) the question “What is the Gospel?” because I firmly believe that unless we grasp what the Gospel – the Good News – actually is, we will not be able to proclaim it. ‘
My first reaction was sadness that David, a former Lutheran pastor who became Roman Catholic ten years ago (after which event he still claimed to be in some sense 'a Lutheran') would have to ask this question of his fellow Roman Catholics and himself. But those of us who have closely studied the doctrine and life of the Roman Catholic Church would certainly not be surprised at the confusion David has found (and evidently experienced within himself) in his adopted ecclesial community as to this most basic and urgent of questions: what is the Gospel?
The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes it (Rom 1:16) and David is profoundly correct in stating that unless the Gospel is clearly defined it cannot be proclaimed. I would add that without such proclamation sinners are not being saved, no matter how many of them fill the pews at each Mass (indeed, I can't tell you how many ex-Roman Catholics, my dear wife included, who I have heard say 'I never heard the Gospel in the x number of years I spent in the Roman church').
So, in the interest of furthering the cause of the Gospel among our Roman friends, I have humbly offered a definition in the comments section of David's post; this definition is basically a paraphrase of what is written in the Lutheran confession of faith known as the Formula of Concord [@ SD V, 20]. I hope this might go some way towards answering David's question in his own mind and that of his co-religionists:
The Gospel [the Good News] is the proclamation that the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, has taken upon Himself and borne the curse of the Law and has expiated and paid for all our sins by his suffering and death on the Cross. Through faith in him we enter into favour with God, our sins are forgiven and we are delivered from death and all the just punishments our sins deserved, and are eternally saved.
Bible references, I added, could be supplied if needed, or, I suggested, one might simply want to read Paul’s Letter to the Romans for the definitive, inspired theological exposition of the Gospel.
More could be said on the subject of the Gospel, of course, but in my estimation that is exactly how Rome has fallen into error - with what it has illegitimately added to the divinely revealed Gospel - a damnable tendency I like to call 'the Roman and': faith and works, Jesus and Mary and the saints, God's will and man's, and so on (just read the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) to be disabused of the notion that Vatican II changed any Roman doctrine concerning soteriology). So, I will leave it at that for the present - after all we are seeking clarity, looking to sweep the Roman church clean, so to speak, of the accumulated doctrinal dust of centuries which has obscured the pristine beauty of the foundational Gospel God gave it at the brilliant dawn of the Christian era. It was, after all, to the Roman Christians that Paul wrote his seminal letter, which still shines incandescently with the grace of God almost two millenia later.
It will be interesting to see what comments this elicits from those who 'think with the [papal] church' on David's blog. If interested, you can follow the discussion here. Caveat lector: false doctrine abounds, so venture abroad (i.e. follow the link) armed with the sword of the Spirit:
'But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.'
Romans 3:21-25 (NIV)
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!