Michael F. Bird on the Fourfold Gospel

“The four Gospels exhibit a plurality and unity that both encourages and restricts christological reflection. As a plurality, they demonstrate that no single Gospel, no one narration, and no solo story possesses a monopoly on describing who Jesus is. It takes the richness and diversity of four different accounts to come close to penetrating into the mystery of the man and his mission. In fact, the plurality of the Gospels stimulates us to write, preach, teach, paint, and sing about Jesus in ways that are far from monolithic but celebrate the diverse ways that Jesus Christ quickens our hearts, fills us with joy, drives us to Godward devotion, and inspires us to love others. At the same time, as a unity the four Gospels are in a sense constricting, setting the boundaries as they do for all christological discourse. They mark out the theological zone in which our discussion and devotion to Christ takes place. This proves that certain images of Jesus are out of bounds. The purely human Jesus, the phantasm Jesus, or the Jesus as an angel view, or the neo-liberal California Jesus, or the ultra-conservative ant-big government Jesus, or the Nazi Aryan Jesus, or the armed communist liberator Jesus – all these are moving beyond the playing field.”

– Michael F. Bird, The Gospel of the Lord, 326.

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