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You Need a Better Gospel

Reclaiming the Good News of Participation with Christ

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Too often, the church hasn't done justice to its own gospel because it has neglected how much the New Testament message is about deep involvement in life with God. Senior New Testament scholar Klyne Snodgrass offers a corrective, explaining that the church will never be what it is supposed to be without a recovery of the gospel.

This brief, accessibly written, and timely book shows that the biblical message is about attachment to Christ, participation in his death and resurrection, and engagement in his purposes. Snodgrass demonstrates that understanding and appropriating the gospel of participation conforms with what the church's great thinkers have emphasized throughout history and enables the church to recover its true identity.

This book brings the notion of participation in the gospel to a wider church audience. While other studies on this topic focus mostly on Paul's writings, You Need a Better Gospel shows that participation is the emphasis of the entire Bible, including the Old Testament. The real gospel, which offers participation in life with God, is astounding in its beauty and its power for life.


1. Participation in Christ
2. Is Faith as Participation a New Idea?
3. What Is Participation, and Why Is It Important?
4. Is the Gospel of Participation in the Old Testament?
5. The Gospels in the Synoptic Gospels
6. Deep Participation in John and 1 John
7. The Gospel in the Book of Acts
8. Paul's Letters: How Does Salvation Work, and for What Purpose?
9. Paul's Letters: How Does Salvation Work, and for What Purpose?
10. Striking Assertions of Participation
11. So What?
Appendix: The Relation of the Gospels of Jesus and Paul


"Here is an impassioned and accessible plea for union with Christ as the center of Christian faith and life. Drawing on a wide swath of Scripture and Christian tradition, You Need a Better Gospel will be a boon to clergy and lay people who yearn for a deeper, livelier, and more transformative faith in the reality of the good news."

Susan Eastman, associate research professor of New Testament, Duke Divinity School

"Delaying gratification works well when you're on a diet or saving for retirement but not so well when it comes to defining the content of the gospel, which concerns not only an afterlife but eternal life now. To have eternal life is to participate in the family of God--in the Son, through the Spirit--with other adoptees. Snodgrass rightly asks evangelicals--'gospel people'--to recover the New Testament understanding of faith, which is considerably more rich, dramatic, and self-involving than merely signing on the doctrinal dotted line."

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"In this important and readable book, Klyne Snodgrass unpacks what is, for many Christians, a significantly underappreciated scriptural theme: God's participation with us and our participation in the life of God. The robust gospel of transformative participation recovered and expounded in these pages is a needed corrective to the simplistic gospel on offer in too many quarters of the church. A must-read for pastors and lay people as well as professors and scholars."

Michael J. Gorman, Raymond E. Brown Chair in Biblical Studies and Theology, St. Mary's Seminary & University; author of Participating in Christ

"With pastoral concern, academic rigor, and godly wisdom, Klyne Snodgrass provides a helpful resource for a wide range of readers. The gospel--good news--continually gets debated and at times truncated, but Snodgrass shows that a robust gospel is not about a ticket to heaven but about humans fulfilling their ultimate purpose through participation in Christ."

Dennis R. Edwards, associate professor of New Testament, North Park Theological Seminary

"This book is a needed plea to the church to rediscover the real gospel as rooted in participation in and engagement with Christ. It leads to a better understanding of the call of our faith to be active and focused on things that matter. The gospel has been hijacked for many other things that have little or nothing to do with what God asks of all people. We are made in his image and designed for relationship and participation with him. This book sets all of that right, leading us not only to reflect who we are designed to be but to live actively in the very way God asks us to travel, aware that he is very much with us and in us as we go."

Darrell L. Bock, senior research professor of New Testament studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

"Many struggle to find the coherence in what seems like a big jumble of ideas in the Bible: grace, obedience, works, salvation, ethics, baptism, and so on. Klyne Snodgrass has put his finger on the missing piece that holds these all together--participation. Christianity's God-centered gospel is focused on personal transformation because the means to salvation and its goal are found in participation, union with Christ through the Spirit. This view changes everything, so I strongly commend this book."

Ben C. Blackwell, associate professor of early Christianity, Houston Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. Klyne R. Snodgrass
    Christopher Padgett and Rachel Reinders © First Blush Photos

    Klyne R. Snodgrass

    Klyne R. Snodgrass (PhD, University of St. Andrews) is professor emeritus of New Testament studies at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois, where he taught for more than forty years. He is the author of several books, including the influential...

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