By Scot McKnight
Scot McKnight’s “The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited” is a clearly made case that our near total equivocation of the term “The Gospel” with a “Personal plan of salvation” is a bad case of mistaken identity, witnessed as it were, by the fact we style ourselves “evangelicals” when our salvation emphasis deems it more appropriate to title ourselves “soterians”. Point well taken. His analyses confirms the evidence as “evangelism today is obsessed with getting someone to make a decision; [while] the apostles, however, were obsessed with making disciples”. McKnight’s book thus sets out to re-ask the basic question “What is the Gospel”? In order to accomplish this task, McKnight combs through Scripture and executes a sound-but-to-the-point exegesis on relevant passages such as 1 Corinthians 15 and the various sermons throughout Acts; time and time again we end up with the same conclusion: the Gospel is the story of the crucified and resurrected King/Messiah Jesus as the unsuspected finale of the troubled Story of Israel now set back on course to be consummated at the Parousia. However, to those who might suspect foul play with regards to our salvation, McKnight makes explicit “Salvation—the robust salvation of God—is the intended result of the Gospel story about Jesus Christ that completes the story of Israel in the Old Testament”. Bravo McKnight, bravo.
I was delighted when I turned to Chapter 5, “How did Salvation take over the Gospel”, McKnight’s historical synopsis of how Evangelicalism arrived at this narrowed vision of the Gospel, as writers often fail to back their sweeping claims with historical investigation. After all, if we made a wrong turn we should pull out the map and begin retracing our steps. Our steps lead us back to the Reformation and its subsequent confessions which tended to de-storify the Gospel and reframe it within soteriological terms. If this wasn’t already enough, I became overjoyed when, in Chapter 7, McKnight addressed the question of whether Jesus himself preached the Gospel, as some quarters, rather naively, believe to be a negative since the phrase sola fide is not in their red letter editions. However, if the Gospel is first and foremost about Jesus, and Jesus’ Gospel message is centered in himself then there is no reason to postulate that Paul and Jesus weren’t on the same page.
My only disagreement with McKnight’s book was his reservation on the counter-imperial edge of the New Testament, stating “I’m not convinced the anti-imperial theme was as conscious as some are suggesting”. Nevertheless, I propose that though the anti-imperial resonance may be muddled for us reading it in solitude two-thousand years later, it’s no guarantee that with a ubiquitous imperial cult and coins in their pockets (anachronism I know) that were making the same claims for Caesar as they were for Jesus that they weren’t conscious of these implications. I only have to say “Jesus is President” in our own context and people immediately know the implication is “And Obama is not”. Moreover, I noticed McKnight didn’t even take into consideration Philippians and Revelation, two documents that should be allowed to weigh in when we draw a conclusion on the anti-imperial theme in Scripture. Of course, this discussion was only several pages long and has no bearing on the main thesis in general.
In conclusion, what McKnight has provided in The King Jesus Gospel is a clarion call for those who call themselves “evangelicals” to do just that, herald that Israel’s story as contained in the Scriptures is brought to its intended conclusion in the story of the crucified and resurrected King Jesus whose reign will entail the salvation of all who trust in him. Likewise, if this book is allowed to expand our vision of the Gospel and that includes the call and command to discipleship we may finally witness in full glory the transformative power contained within this message of the King to change our lives from top to bottom. This book is on my current top ten, I suggest you make room for it in yours.
McKnight, Scot. The King Jesus Gospel
Author of several books, and professor in religious studies at North Park University Chicago, (Ph.D Nottingham)
Reshaping Evangelism! From a salvation culture out of a gospel culture and how did evangelicals become soterians? Mcknight decided to write a book about, why the Church can evangelize but cannot disciple? In the chuch there is a chasm between the decided or undecided a salvation culture and Gospel culture. I call this “the cart before the horse culture.” He says, that the church evangelistic efforts though good do not follow through our evangelism due to a misunderstanding of the church’s vocation. Salvation is define now as a personal salvation so our evangelical efforts have been thwarted but it could be expanded with a understanding of the true meaning of the term “Gospel” he says, it is by including not excluding the Old Testament with the New Testament telling the whole Story of Israel through to the Story of Jesus. Starting with the Gospel of according to the Apostle Paul he says is found in (ICor. 15) It is told here in three parts he says we should all start here to see what the Gospel is. The Gospel is about the good news of Jesus Christ, of course. Paul tells it by referring to the OT scriptures and Israel’s story. The Gospel is the fulfillment of Israel’s story and promises and it has reached its resolution in Jesus Christ. Salvation is Jesus died with us, (Identification), instead of us (representing and substiution)and for us (incorportion into the life of God). Jesus entered fully into the human condition. (I liked this difinition) McKnight recites passages to confirm and affirm the necessity for people to tell the complete Gospel in order for disciples to be made and that we must begin to distinguish between the Gospel Story and the Salvation Plan, the Gospel is about Jesus as Lord connected to the story of Israel. The word Gospel means in Roman terms, a royal announcement that Jesus is King and Caesar is not! He interviewed several pastors as to what did Gospel mean to them and found that one of the pastor’s difinition lack the announcement or declaration the pastor only saw through the lens of salvation, death and resurrection but that it should have include the proclamation of King Jesus as King of the whole world. So we see the effect of Soterianism he contends come from the history of the church from Augustine through the reformation which reduced the Apostalic gospel tradtion of the teachings of Jesus to merely a personal decision and wiped out the gospel culture of Jesus and the Apostles. He believes that the church can reshape evangelism from a not only a personal gospel but to an evangelical and discipleship gospel but it would take each of us to gospelizing. He then defines Gospel through the four Gospel stories, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Jesus Gospel of himself. They all preached the story of Jesus resolving the story of Israel. McKnight calls gospeling, something that our modern day preachers and teachers are missing and again that is to declare the royal truth about King Jesus and Jesus is the Gospel. He says, “that the Gospel was a summons that demands a response. It is to believe, to repent, and to be baptized. To believe to trust one’s entire person and salvation to Jesus Christ (Acts 10:43) a trusting relationship with God and such a trusting relationship generates a life of obedience, holiness, and love.” That our gospeling should not only include a persuasion but also a declaration. It should always contain the Story of Israel through the Story of Jesus from Adam and Eve who were the original Eikons of God on through Abraham, right through to Israel who failed to bear out God’s image to the world. Jesus is the true Eikon who did not usurper or fail to represent God in the earth he is the true Priestly King. I Phil. 2, Col. 1. He unusurped for us so that one day we will govern under the King and Head of all things Jesus in the eternal city of God. He encourages us to become the people of the Story of Jesus. The book was centeralized on the Gospel message it was a warning something like a buzzed on a alarmed clock calling us to awake to our evangelism techniques and programs. The church best resembles the church of Sardis in Revelations they were known as the church of empty profession they had God’s word but needed to turn again to Apostalic life their doctrine and behavior were incomplete they were not using the truths that they had learned, church leaders were to be wakeful and carry out their responsibility to emphazie a complete doctrine they were to turn back to truth of the Holy Spirit, life and prophetic truth found in the gospels and epistiles. He teaches us to return to the Whole Gospel preaching and teaching it he gives us a vivid, historical difinition of the word “Gospel” . I enjoyed it very much it was easy to read and I was enlighten. Who should read this book every Christian!
A wonderful read indeed. Without rehashing what has been well-stated by previous commentators, I can simply add that I found myself in fundamental agreement with the thrust of McKnight’s work. One need only consume the content of what is understood to be the gist of Christianity, be it from Christian friends on facebook, popular books and music, along with preaching and conversation on television and radio, to realize that the author’s premise in regards to the salvation culture of the church is very much bent towards the cultivation of a private spirituality. Reflection on my own life and theological journey dovetails quite well with the quotes and pastoral contrasts that McKnight peppers throughout his tightly constructed book. If one is to take the content of the New Testament seriously, which requires taking seriously the content of the Hebrew Scriptures so as to be able to locate the story of Jesus in relation to the story of Israel, one would be hard-pressed to find an emphasis on private spirituality. The Gospel, as McKnight insists, is far more expansive, as it, as suggested by the title of the book, is a message about a King and His kingdom. The focus that has been given to a personal salvation experience, accelerated by the Reformation (understanding that the Reformation was a reaction against an authoritarian and domineering church, so its understandable that the pendulum, both during the Reformation and in its wake, swung so far away from anything resembling structure, eventually landing the church world into an enlightenment morass and its attendant default settings in regards to the sacred and the profane from which it just now escaping), would make the church and its “gospel” message nearly unrecognizable to the first purveyors of the Gospel (Jesus and His disciples). It is incumbent upon Christians to re-grasp the original message of the Gospel, which is that Jesus is King, that His rule is ongoing, and that His rule extends to every area of life. When the implications of this statement are understood, it changes everything. In fact, it already changed everything. The church, unfortunately, has allowed the change that the Gospel brought to the world to slip away, and it is high time for a new generation of Christians, freed from enlightenment categories and the dictates of private pietism, casting off dichotomies of heaven and hell and an unfortunate fixation on “what happens when you die,” to re-enact and then re-proclaim (purposely putting the deed before the word) the message to which all of Scripture points.
Wow, great comments by Lawrence, Victoria & David!!! There is nothing I can say that would add to the excellent posts that have already been written so I will simply add a persoanl note.
Scot McKnight has clearly and simply brought us back to the genesis; to the Gospel of King Jesus.
For years I lived under the false impression that the Gospel was that Jesus died for me and paid the price for my sins so that when I die I would go to heaven (provided I lived a life of holiness and imputed righteousness). Personal salvation was what I wanted and needed in order to escape death.
How wrong I have been! God’s good news is not my personal escape from hell and death but it is the story of Israel, culminating in the story of Jesus. His life, death burial and resurrection. God unveils New Creation in the midst of the old one through the resurrection of Jesus.
The Gospel is the proclamation of the vindication of Jesus of Nazareth by YWHW who raised him from the dead and has placed Him at His right hand as King of all the earth and Lord of all. It is the story of God setting things to right through the faithfulness of Israel’s reprentative (Jesus) and how He has reconciled us to himself through Jesus.
Great book and a must read for those seeking a clearer picture of what the Gospel really is.
The King Jesus Gospel (The Original Good News Revisited), is a book that every person that considers themselves Christians, would and should take the time to read. Written by Scot McKnight, towards a mission of bringing back the Gospel of the completion of Israel’s story through Jesus and not that the Gospel is purely about self salvation. Scot goes into great detail explaining how in the beginning the story was about Jesus, in what way the Apostle Peter and Apostle Paul preached of Israel and its completion of its story. Mr. McKnight shows us, the readers, when and where it all changed; and it became a story about us and our self salvation. As the author put it, all we want to do now, is be saved and have nothing to do with Jesus, mission, discipleship, until we get to heaven.
Scot McKnight’s book tells a story in a manner of returning to be a Gospel culture and leaving behind the Salvation culture. Even though my belief is that of salvation should be a minor detail of the Gospel culture, so does the author; we agree that it should not be the climax of the story. In other words, we shouldn’t put ourselves above the story of Jesus. As McKnight emphasizes, “We have to become people of the story, we need to immerse ourselves even more into the story of Jesus.” Basically we need to stop being usurpers. Wanting to rule as gods and goddesses and not as under-governors under God on this planet we call Earth. McKnight points out, our God has gone above and beyond, that we as eikons have had plenty of second chances from our true God to do this, only to fail Him time after time. Jesus was the one and only to accomplish the mission as Scot explains in great detail.
In conclusion, I highly recommend that you should read this book. As a person that walks on this earth, I see everything that Scot McKnight points out. People preaching the Gospel about self salvation, that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and that it will be all good if you accept him into your life. Wrong, “The Gospel is Jesus’ and the Apostles’ interpretation of the story of life.”
Scot McKnight’s book “The King Jesus Gospel: The original Good News Revisited” is a captivating and truly enlightening book that helps us as the body of believers to understand and recognize what the gospel is not and where we went off course reforming it into The Plan of Salvation. More importantly, McKnight does a thorough job of explaining through the scriptures what exactly the gospel is.
I admit as I read this book I was asking myself, “What is the gospel already McKnight?” and quite humorous I arrived at the 6th chapter and he writes ‘if you want to read the gospel, hear the gospel, or preach the gospel, read, listen to, and preach the Gospel (Matt,Mar,Lk,Jn). Duh! Your absolutely right!
Being myself a person taught that the “Just shall live by faith” was the gospel, the Good news, I didn’t realize that it dominated the way I looked at the gospels, especially with “Your faith has healed you or saved you.” No real understanding of Israel’s story and hopes, and I fear a great plenty sit in church and have no idea that Israel’s story of how YHWH was going to rescue and restore His creation through Abraham and his descendants doesn’t even factor in because it has been disconnected, we only know a incomplete story and that has stifled the church in its own understanding and mission.
Scot McKnight explains over and over again that Israel did indeed have a story and that election charged them to be YHWH’s people and that through Israel YHWH would bless the nations. Except that through idolatry and hard heartedness exile loomed and eventually God allowed other nations to conquer his people. The people still looked for a savior, a Neo-Moses of the lineage of their beloved King David. Now here comes the Gospel. JESUS! He himself is the Gospel, he preached the gospel and the apostles preached Jesus, he died for us, with us and instead of us, He rose and was exalted. JESUS IS KING!
The way McKnight hammers out 1 Cor. 15:3-5 as the earliest teachings on what the gospel was, then freaks it when he writes “we could even think about the connection of the Apostolic gospel (1cor15,3-5) and the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as going in two different directions at the same time. On the one hand, the gospel preaching of the Apostles could be reduced down to 1 Cor 15:3-5, and, at the same time, we could say that 1 Cor. 15:3-5 was expanded and expounded into the four Gospels. Why can we say this? Because the gospel and the Gospel are one and the same. You bet they are!! Thank you McKnight.
I love the way he aims to seriously change the way we herald the message, from out of touch with the story “soterions” into genuine evangelicals preaching and living the Good News. The King Jesus Gospel is a must read, it will sharpen and equip God’s disciples for our Great Commission and might just challenge your understanding of what the gospel really is as you revisit the original Good News. Thanx Larry for another crucial but delightful book.
For the last half century there has been a growing trend among scholars and pastors to highlight the cultural world in which the New Testament was conceived. This effort is undertaken in order to unearth a realistic picture of the gospel, painted against the canvas of the wider Greco-Roman world. For those seeking a deeper loyalty to the church’s rich heritage as God’s elect people, the presumption is that if the comparisons and contrasts between the early Jesus-movement were brought to the fore, the faithful of today might have a clearer idea of the way in which they are to interact with the world about them. However, in concentrating so heavily on the impact of the apostolic church upon the ancient Mediterranean, we run the risk of losing accurate sight of the means of that impact. In other words, we have gained an improved understanding of what we Christians are supposed to do- mold the world into God’s image as Christ’s agents- yet there remains confusion as to how we are supposed to execute this mission.
Into the dialogue steps Scot McKnight. Amidst this and other vibrant conversations between scholars, pastors, and everyday Christians, McKnight calls the church back to an awareness of the apostolic gospel’s actual contents. He does this by drawing on several texts from the New Testament, the lion’s share of attention being devoted to Paul’s opening statement in 1 Corinthians 15. Therein, the apostle provides a liturgical expression of the gospel, no doubt recited regularly in some of the very earliest Christian communities. Paul, as McKnight points out, begins by reminding the Corinthians that the words which follow are a summary of the “gospel” that he preached while originally among them: “The Messiah died for our sins in accordance with the Bible; he was buried; he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Bible.”
McKnight takes the reader on a fascinating trip through the contours of the New Testament, into the Gospels, the Paulines, Petrines, Johannines, and Pastorals, and out through Revelation, as he points out the pervasiveness of the gospel theme in 1 Corinthians within the writings of other early Christian authors. Based on the consistencies which our author finds on this enlightening trek, he concludes that preaching and teaching can only merit to itself the designation of “gospel” when it stresses that the entire story of Jesus (including, but not restricted to the bloody cross bit by which individual sinners get “saved”) was the climax of Israel’s long and tortuous history.
What emerges from McKnight’s book is a necessary step toward redeeming (or perhaps creating?) a “gospel-culture” within the church, and through the church across the globe. In taking the time to explain what the gospel is, our author has effectively helped the church get its shoes back on her proper feet, as we take Paul’s advice in Ephesians 6 to shod our feet “with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”
Academia Church © 2013