The New Testament is known for containing four canonical gospels, but pastor and author Bobby Conway believes that there is actually a fifth gospel — one that holds the power to profoundly transform Christianity's reputation around the globe.
Christian pastor and author Bobby Conway (BobbyConwayOnline.com)
Conway argues in his new book "The Fifth Gospel" that Christians are, in fact, that fifth gospel, as they collectively carry and represent the message espoused in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — and throughout the entirety of the Bible.
"I'm contending that the church is the fifth gospel — not an inspired gospel, but hopefully an inspiring one," Conway recently told TheBlaze. "People are not only listening to what we say, [but] people are watching how we live our lives."
The author said that he wrote the book as a result of his concern over Christianity's reputation in the world.
While he said "The Fifth Gospel" isn't intended to be a church-bashing text, the pastor believes that Christianity's image around the world isn't always a positive one — and that adherents play a major role in that perception.
"[The world] perceives the church as moral policeman — they are unloving. Jesus said the world will know you are my disciples if you love one another," he said. "They see [Christians] divided. We have over 40,000 denominations. It's staggering."
Conway said that this lack of unity is problematic, as it leads outsiders to wonder whether the truth could be contained in the midst of so much denominational chaos.
"There's so much confusion within the church and then there are many different messages from the pulpit surrounding what it means to be a Christian, he said. "Even the true follower of Christ struggles to follow."
Non-Christians, he said, see this division; they also oft-times see Christians as hypocrites, as some don't live out the message that they claim to adhere to and preach.
"When people look at the church they see us divided, but they think that Christians are hypocrites, that they're gossipy, that they don't live any different from the rest of the world ... that they come across unloving, that they lack grace [and] that they come across self-righteous," Conway said.
He told TheBlaze that it's essential for believers to live out the gospel — a concept that he said requires Christians to rely upon Jesus.
"I think to the Christian we need to realize that our purpose — our aim in life — is to become like Jesus in virtue," Conway said. "He models for us the kind of life that we are to live. We want to follow his example."
He said that Christ will "be the king over our future kingdom" and that believers should embrace this and "begin to pull the future into the present."
When this happens, he said Christians live differently and more vibrantly. In the end, Conway contends that believers should be asking themselves a key question: Is Jesus changing your life?
"None of us are going to live perfectly like Jesus, but he is our ideal and we should be seeking to live like him," Conway said. "[When this happens] we begin to speak differently, our actions are different, we care about the poor and sick. We want people to know the message of the kingdom of God."
In addition to living out the gospel and serving as the so-called fifth gospel, he said that it's important to talk to others about God.
"We should unapologetically — but humbly — be able to share how Jesus has changed our lives," Conway said.
The author encouraged people to read "The Fifth Gospel" and to consider the study guides and information he's included within the book.