A four-fold Gospel tradition


  • the pastor
  • YEAR A
  • the evangelist
  • YEAR B
  • the healer
  • YEAR C
  • the prophet
  • no YEAR
"presents Jesus as the great TEACHER, who has the authority to interpret the law of God and who teaches about God's Kingdom" "presents the story of Jesus in a straightforward, vigorous way, with emphasis on WHAT JESUS DID rather than on his words and teachings" "great emphasis is placed on PRAYER, the Holy Spirit, the role of women in the ministry of Jesus, and God's forgiveness of sins" "most striking feature is the symbolic use of COMMON THINGS from everyday life to point to SPIRITUAL REALITIES, such as water, bread, light, the shepherd and his sheep, the grapevine and its fruit"
possible topics: preaching and teaching; first communion & confirmation preparation; baptism. marriage and funeral care; themes through the Christian Year possible topics: discovering most appropriate pattern of evangelism for us today; visiting parishioners; sympathetic welcome in church; follow-up of the lapsed possible topics: closer awareness of other local Christian groups; deepening our prayer life; keeping everyone in view; support for one another, both clergy and lay; links with minority groups possible topics: improving the society in which we live; exploring matters of public concern; imaginative use of existing resources; developing a sense of fellowship within the church; recognising the sacred amidst the secular
text: "Come unto me and I will give you rest" (11:28) text: "with God all things are possible" (10:27) text: "this man receiveth sinners and eateth with them" (15:2) text: "He that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out" (6:37)
human & divine lion ox eagle
instructional style practical style devotional style insightful style
keyword:fulfilment keyword:straightway keyword:worship keyword:mystical
Theorist Activist Pragmatist Reflector
word word sacrament sacrament
tradition exploration tradition exploration
thrives on argument & discussion, like to be intellectually stretched and need to grasp the theoretical undergirding thinks variety is the spice of life, enjoys a challenge, doesn't mind getting things wrong or finding egg on their face prefers to learn from successful people who have proven competency in the field rather than ivory-towered experts does not like being in the spotlight, may not be good at giving instant responses, enjoys listening to other people's points of view
no loose ends, follows things through, teacher and organiser, any doubts are channelled into intellectual challenges enthusiast, expects the impossible through prayer, not worried if it doesn't all tie up, gregarious, suspicious of liberal detachment charismatic, not a trace of cynicism, if things get tough then God is testing us, deep roots, sense of belonging to one's past sees relevance in ordinary things that others miss, loner, theologian, analyst, cynical streak, secular
a good king a warrior a great mother a shaman
a static introvert a dynamic extrovert a static extrovert a dynamic introvert
male & ex-officio male & ex-officio female & charismatic female & charismatic
precise, deliberate, economical, methodical, analytical, practical, details, questioning objectives, informative, polymath, authoritative quick, confident, persuasive, forceful, striving, competitive, strong-willed, single-minded, straightforward, assertive, inspiring trust, support, responsive, helpful, receptive, warm, encouraging, empathy, sharing, relaxed, building relationships, always knows what is best enthusiastic, creative, imaginative, demonstrative, persuasive, quirky, adaptable, animated, sparky, inspired, depressed
in worst case becomes (bitter old man) in worst case becomes (mercenary tyrant) in worst case becomes (devouring mother) in worst case becomes (mad woman)
  • action planning
  • time management
  • strategy games
  • non-fiction books
  • reviewing
  • gathering info
  • tidying clutter
  • collecting
  • cataloguing
  • classical/baroque
  • competitive sports
  • gym work-out
  • martial arts
  • punch bag
  • physical tasks
  • extreme sports
  • archery/shooting
  • hunting/fishing
  • mountaineering
  • rock music
  • relaxation
  • walk in nature
  • in or near water
  • slow hot bath
  • health diet
  • meditation
  • gardening
  • massage/aromas
  • quiet times
  • easy listening/jazz
  • artistic/painting
  • dance class
  • singing
  • poetry & drama
  • pottery
  • self-expression
  • spontaneity
  • doing unfamiliar
  • brainstorming
  • world music


formative inputs:


the reredos at St Alban's Church. Becontree; sculpted 1934 by Herbert Read of Exeter

the introductions to the Gospels in Good New Bible

"The Four Faces of God" - John Bickersteth & Timothy Pain, Kingsway Publications, 1992

"Images of Leadership and Authority for the Church
- Biblical Principles and Secular Models"
- David A Steele, University Press of America, 1986

"Inspirational Leadership" - Richard Oliver, The Industrial Society, 2001

Post-Script 2015

This page has been sitting out here in one form or another for at least 10 years.
My attention has only recently been drawn to a book by Richard A Burridge
entitled "Four Gospels - One Jesus?", first published 1994 by SPCK.
During questions following a lecture at Brentwood Cathedral in October 2015
the Revd Canon Professor Burridge said that Bickersteth's book (listed above)
had not been an influence upon his own work, and pointed out
that he and Bickersteth differed in their matching up of the four living creatures.

...return to previous index