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Recently, we started up a series on the kingdom of God at our church. And, though I had originally planned to purchase and read Scot McKnight's newest release, The King Jesus Gospel, I had thought I would do it at some point down the road. Yet I decided to go ahead and get the book this week, believing it would be able to give some more insight into the gospel of the kingdom as I prepared my messages.

 

Hence, this week I purchased the book and have read about a third of it so far. The reason I held back at first is that, from what I can tell by reading other's blogs about some of the book's central points, I believe I was already on a similar page to McKnight. And I reckoned a lot of what he says has already been addressed by such New Testament studies pillars as N.T. Wright and George Ladd.

 

But, again, noting my recent preaching series that has begun, and also knowing I really like McKnight's approaches to biblical studies and theology, I decided to purchase the book sooner rather than later. It has proved a good and stirring read thus far.

 

One thing that constantly came out in the early chapters of the book is how, even though we identify ourselves by the term evangelicals, we have actually been more soterians (salvationists) rather than evangelicals (proclaimers of the evangel-good news). Of course, McKnight does not and will not back away from the reality that people must be personally born again to see the kingdom of God. But he questions whether our focus on the plan of salvation and personal salvation has actually eclipsed a faithful understanding and proclaiming of the gospel as found upon the lips of Jesus and the first apostles.

 

McKnight challenges:

 

I believe the word gospel has been hijacked by what we believe about "personal salvation," and the gospel itself has been reshaped to facilitate making "decisions." The result of this hijacking is the word gospel no longer means in our world what it originally meant to either Jesus or the apostles. (p26)

 

And later on he states:

 

I am convinced that because we think the gospel is the Plan of Salvation, and because we preach the Plan of Salvation, as the gospel, we are not actually preaching the gospel. To make this more serious, what we are in most need of today, especially with a generation for whom the Plan of Salvation doesn't make instinctive sense, is more gospel preaching that sets the context for the Plan of Salvation (p40)

 

Though many associate the gospel, the good news, with personal salvation or justification, these are not actually the gospel. Of course, they are the fruit of faithful proclamation and response to the evangel. But they are not inherently the gospel.

 

And McKnight reiterates what Tom Wright had already said in his book, What Saint Paul Really Said (which I was, oddly enough, already reading):

 

I am perfectly comfortable with what people normally mean when they say "the gospel." I just don't think it is what Paul means. In other words, I am not denying that the usual meanings are things that people ought to say, to preach about, to believe. I simply wouldn't use the word "gospel" to denote these things.

 

And so McKnight begins to lay out what he sees the gospel as - the fulfilment of the story of Israel in the Messiah-Jesus. But I will share more later on in a more complete follow-up review of the book.

 

Having said all this, so far, this book has proven to be a good read. And I think it is time that evangelicals start to rethink just what the evangel truly is all about.

Views: 315

Tags: Jesus, books, evangelical, evangelism, gospel, kingdom, kingdom of God, quotes

Comment by Marv on October 13, 2011 at 10:26am

Better the Paraclete than the parakeet.

Just sayin'.

Comment by Scott on October 13, 2011 at 11:02am
Ser -

Who should we begin with? Jesus or Paul?

Let's not pit the two against one another. But let's establish who came proclaiming the gospel first, what he proclaimed, and then consider the latter building something on the former.

And I believe you will be delighted to know that McKnight spends a great deal of the time centring his gospel understanding in Paul's statement in 1 Cor 15. But he lays out some things that we have maybe never considered with that passage. And I wish McKnight had spent a little more time in the Gospels, but I'm only a third through the book. We see how it continues to build.
Comment by Scott on October 13, 2011 at 11:23am
I also agree that to narrow the gospel into this or that can be unhelpful. The gospel Jesus proclaimed was foundational, but it was also very Jewish. I believe Paul helped take it further into the Gentile context, but maintaining the Jewish roots. I think we need to always contextualise the gospel rather than simply make it too spiritually abstract. I am trying to consider what would make the good news good news in Belgium.

I mentioned it at the end of this article, but McKnight's major point is that the gospel for Paul was the fulfilment of Israel's story in the Messiah, Jesus. Paul's statement in the larger context of 1 Cor 15 consists of the fulfilment of a story, not just a verse here or there (Wright likes to emphasise this too). So when it says, 'according to the Scriptures', the point is not to find a few proof texts in the OT about Christ's death for forgiveness of sin and his resurrection, but that in those events, Jesus was fulfilling Israel's story, which Israel could not do. That is good news, if the Jews would really understand this and embrace it. He did it and he alone! And this is where the gospel maintains its Hebrew-Jewish roots, but is now calling Gentiles to embrace that good news.
Comment by Marv on October 13, 2011 at 11:24am
Horton's review is worth a read.
Comment by Scott on October 13, 2011 at 11:27am
Oh no, a reformed review.
Comment by Marv on October 13, 2011 at 11:33am
Sorry, too meaty. Maybe an aerocephelian approach.
Comment by Marv on October 13, 2011 at 1:37pm

Exactly. Thing is it is a mostly appreciative review. Takes exception to a few things.

Comment by Scott on October 13, 2011 at 2:35pm
So any real thoughts on whether we have missed something about the gospel and might need to reasses some things?
Comment by Jason on October 13, 2011 at 3:27pm

ScottL,

I've not read the book but, in the vein of 1Cor15, I think we should see that the gospel goes all of the way to the end of the chapter. It is the good news of the kingdom, just as Jesus preached.

Comment by Marv on October 13, 2011 at 4:09pm

"Rethink" the gospel? I think not.

Deepen our understanding of the gospel. Always.

My response about the Horton review was a real thought, and I think he points out that what McK is reacting to is a watery pietistic altar call kind of thing. I don't think the answer is to reinvent the wheel, or give it a Wrighty-emergy-parakeety reboot. Chowing down on some robust theolgy, stuff that has been there for centuries already, would be far more nourishing, I'd wager.

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