Quotes from The Very Good Gospel

By: Scott Armstrong

I recently read Lisa Sharon Harper’s The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right. I agree with Shane Claiborne, who says, “On these pages, the Garden of Eden meets the world we live in.” I encourage anyone to read the full book; in fact, my hope is to whet your appetite with the following excerpts. Let me know what challenges you or resonates with you.

*The following quotes are taken from Lisa Sharon Harper’s book The Very Good Gospel.


“Shalom is what the Kingdom of God smells like. It’s what the Kingdom looks like and what Jesus requires of the Kingdom’s citizens. It’s when everyone has enough. It’s when families are healed. It’s when shame is renounced and inner freedom is laid hold of. It’s when human dignity, bestowed by the image of God in all humanity, is cultivated, protected, and served in families, faith communities, and schools and through public policy. Shalom is when the capacity to lead is recognized in every human being and when nations join together to protect the environment.” – p. 14 


“Sin is not about the personal imperfection of the self. Rather, sin is any act that breaks any of the relationships God declared very good at the beginning. As a result, the antidote to sin is not personal perfection – it is radical love!” – p. 50


“In the end, shame leaves us standing alone – separated from one another. It causes us to lash out, then tells us to cover our sin, to deny it and defend it and spin it. And on the flip side, shame leads us to craft armor to protect our hearts from more disengagement and separation. This is what it looks like to sew a protective covering of fig leaves, to believe the foundational lie that this sin, ours or theirs, is confirmation that we are, indeed, worth nothing behind the fig leaves.” – p. 76

Trees + Healing

“Jesus was crucified on a tree. God – the creator of the tree – was nailed to it. The original sin of humanity was committed in relation to a tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Now the redemption of humanity and the reversal of the Fall happens in relation to a tree. Then Jesus conquered death, opening his own grave. And in the end there is only one tree, the Tree of Life. The tree’s leaves are for the healing of the nations (see Revelation 22:1-2).” – pp. 113-114

Broken Families + Reconciliation

“God is committed to broken families. Whether it involves the interpersonal dynamics of domination or a systemic oppression that breaks families, God is committed to reconciling families. Sin is separation, and it always will be a part of the experience of our fallen world. But the promise is this: in the middle of the pain – in the middle of the yawning divide in our families, in the middle of deepest longing for shalom in our closest relationships, God meets us. And God fills the gap through God’s faithful people and through godly governance…There is no shame in your family’s situation; there is only an opportunity to experience more of God.” – pp. 135-136

Implicit Bias

“Across the centuries, the image of God has been breached throughout the world. The breach is the result of what psychologists call explicit (conscious) and implicit (unconscious) ethnic bias. Explicit bias laid foundations for the international slave trade, the annihilation of indigenous peoples on every continent, and the establishment of racial hierarchy. Explicit bias built the systems we continue to operate under in America. Implicit (unconscious) racial bias, meanwhile, looks at our broken world and says, ‘Things are as they should be.’ Implicit bias is what the mind does when it makes quick associations in order to shorten its thought processes. For example, when encountering a table, the mind does not say It has four legs and a plank, therefore it is a table. It just looks at the object and immediately associates it with table. Unconscious association is a normal part of brain functionality. But in our racialized society, we have learned to make unconscious associations with whiteness and blackness and other people of color.” – p. 150

“Implicit bias tells us things are as they should be. Unjust systems and structures remain in place because the people do not demand a better world.” – p. 151

“The theological antidote to racial implicit bias is the doctrine of the image of God!” – p. 208


“Charity offers a hand out or a hand up to individuals caught in poverty’s web. Justice examines the web and tears it down.” – p. 191

A “Small Death”

“Something I’ll never forget: ‘To ask for forgiveness is to die a small death.’ Yes. And I suppose humility is a small death too, the death of supremacy. Trust is a small death, the death of control. Truth is a small death, the death of lack of accountability. Reparation is a small death, the death of domination. Reciprocity is a small death, the death of autonomy. To embrace ‘the other’ is a small death, the death of self-absorption.” – p. 202

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