- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Zondervan (Sept. 25 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 031049298X
- ISBN-13: 978-0310492986
- Product Dimensions: 15 x 1.9 x 22.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 272 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #321,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited Hardcover – Sep 25 2011
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About the Author
Scot McKnight (PhD, Nottingham) is the Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lisle, Illinois. He is the author of more than fifty books, including the award-winning The Jesus Creed as well as The King Jesus Gospel, A Fellowship of Differents, One.Life, The Blue Parakeet, and Kingdom Conspiracy.
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that teaches the Gospel of Jesus clearly...
Buy this book.
It leaves a clear notion of what Gospel truly is in your mind by the time you are done.
Now the challenge for me is implementing the gospel culture as Scot challenges his readers.
The King Jesus Gospel is Scot McKnight's latest contribution to the field of New Testament studies, and seeks to answer the question:
What is the Gospel?
His basic thesis is clear: Evangelicalism in particular is guilty of an extreme over-emphasis on getting people to make a decision about Christ, while the apostles were far more concerned with making disciples. In fact, McKnight asserts that "evangelism that focuses on decisions short circuits and aborts the design of the gospel, while evangelism that aims at disciples slows down to offer the full gospel of Jesus and the apostles" (18).
However, our obsession with getting others to make a decision for Christ quickly loses steam. In fact, studies show that "the correlation between making a decision and becoming a mature follower of Jesus is not high" (19). These disturbing trends has led McKnight on a journey to better understand what the gospel is and what evangelism is, while at the same time embrace a style of evangelism that leads beyond decision to discipleship.
Salvation-culture or Gospel-culture:
The primary issue underlying this dilemma is ultimately a hermeneutical (interpretive) one relating specifically to our understanding of gospel. McKnight's contention is that the word gospel has been hijacked by what we believe about 'personal salvation,' and the gospel itself has been reshaped to facilitate making decisions. This hijacking means that the word gospel no longer means what it originally meant to both Jesus and the apostles. By equating the word salvation with gospel, we have essentially diluted the meaning of gospel and have created a salvation culture more than a gospel culture. In this climate, we are far more concerned with counting numbers and have an unhealthy interested in trying to determine who is in and who is out. And, while salvation is part of the gospel, it does not require the decided to become the discipled, and virtually ignores Jesus' emphasis on following.
What is the gospel?
McKnight contends that Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; 3-5 and 20-28, recites the apostolic gospel tradition and therefore provides his readers with the essence, shape and form of the original gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ.
What does this gospel look like?
that Christ died, that Christ was buried, that Christ was raised, and that Christ appeared.
The gospel, then, is the story of the crucial events in the life of Christ. Instead of the 'four spiritual laws' held up by so many in the salvation culture, the earliest gospel centered on the four events or chapters in the life of Jesus Christ.
Historically, the word gospel meant to 'announce' something, to 'declare' something as good news. And, to 'gospel' is to proclaim something about something. As a result, the gospel is to announce "good news about key events in the life of Jesus Christ" (51). And, while this story includes salvific elements, the story swallows up this salvation component and makes it flow from it rather than dominate it.
The gospel then is the story of Israel that finds its resolution or completion in the story of Jesus. The whole story is told from this perspective so as not to narrow the story to 'four spiritual laws.' By emphasizing the original apostolic gospel as Paul recited it in 1 Corinthians 15, we can re-capture the essence of the story and re-create a gospel culture that includes, but also transcends, the salvation-culture that has come to define much of contemporary Christianity. The danger of focusing on the latter (what McKnight also refers to as a 'plan of salvation' culture), is that we run the risk of preaching the 'plan of salvation' apart from the story. Yet, when this happens,
"the plan almost always becomes abstract, propositional, logical, rational, and philosophical and, most importantly, de-storified and unbiblical. When we separate the Plan of Salvation from the story, we cut ourselves off from the story that identifies us and tells our past and tells our future. We separate ourselves from Jesus and turn the Christian faith into a System of Salvation" (62).
As I mentioned already, this emphasis has lead to the creation of a salvation culture that is foreign to the gospel culture found in the Bible; an emphasis that tends to focus on who is in and who is out.
From these foundational comments, McKnight moves through the remainder of the book to help us to better understand what the essence of the gospel is, what 'gospeling' should look like today, and how to create a gospel culture. He concludes his final chapter by offering a sketch of the gospel and then demonstrates how a gospel culture can emerge from that culture in a series of practical ways.
After reading McKnight's excellent book One.Life (which immediately preceded this book and attempted to answer the question, what is a Christian?), I was excited to move on to The King Jesus Gospel. I was not disappointed.
This book articulates a response to questions about how the gospel has been reduced to create a salvation-culture in much of contemporary Christianity, and particularly within Evangelicalism. Thankfully, McKnight's book has provided a series of thoughtful, balanced and biblically informed answers to those very questions. In fact, I believe the book has expressed what many people have believed for some time.
The King Jesus Gospel attempts to restore the original framework of the gospel by anchoring it within the apostolic witness, specifically Paul's creedal recitation in 1 Corinthians 15. By pointing us back to this witness, McKnight desires to recapture the meaning and significance of the original 'good news' and convince his readers to embrace for what it is, the full gospel. Any other gospel, specifically a salvation-culture-gospel such as ours, not only dilutes the original message, but adds a meaning and emphasis to it that the original never had.
While the results vary, the primary consequence of this over-emphasis is a church culture that has lost its memory about what the good news actually consists of. The orientation of the gospel has always been and should always be centered on making disciples. While Jesus and the apostles always called for a response to the good news, the call never usurped the story of the gospel by creating a 'system of salvation' that ultimately ignored the call to follow.
In a salvation culture, 'accepting Christ into your heart' has become the only necessary step in salvation. The result has been four-fold: a partial and inaccurate telling of the story; a cheapening of the gospel by denying its costs/demands; a lack of focus on discipleship (following); and an unhealthy interest in counting 'salvations' (who's in and out). As a result of this orientation, we have created a culture of people who lack an understanding of the gospel and its implications, while also creating a false sense of security.
However, by placing discipleship within the summons, we make the call more complete and people begin to understand the significance of the decision to follow from the very beginning, rather than sometime later.
In The King Jesus Gospel, McKnight offers us a way forward by encouraging us to embrace the whole gospel of Jesus Christ; an embrace that includes a summons to follow Him as Messiah and Lord, but one that also includes an understanding of what that summons entails.
I highly recommend this book as essential reading for everyone who desires to better understand, re-capture and embrace the original good news of Jesus Christ. The book will illuminate and confront a wide variety of shared assumptions people have about the gospel, and offer a way forward by providing a more thorough and biblically-informed foundation for belief and practice. If read widely, this book has the potential to begin a conversation that could ultimately bring about a contemporary reformation; one that includes a return to the original good news that Jesus is Lord.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
More and more, professing believers are becoming the Body of the un-discipled and unchurched. McKnight postulates that this is because the Church has forgotten the Gospel! Examination of the character studies of Jesus and the Apostles as well as the history of the Christian church has revealed the original evangelized Gospel and its slow metamorphosis and condensation into the Salvation Plan that is preached today.
The Apostolic Gospel is God’s declaration of the story and Kingship of His Son, Jesus, as the fulfillment of the Story of Israel. The Salvation Plan springs forth from this Story of Jesus. When the Gospel is declared, through the Holy Spirit’s power, people surrender their lives to Christ and are saved. It is always transformative and identity affirming.
Unfortunately, the improper weight assigned to the Salvation Plan and consequently, its delivery methods, has defiled the message of the Gospel and caused the creation of a Salvation Culture which is primarily focused on the decision of the lost to accept Christ rather than the creation of disciples. Accordingly, the power of Gospel is rendered lifeless. This has resulted in a perversion of Christian ideals which has birthed carnal and deviant forms of believers.
The only way to cure this aberration is to return to a Gospel Culture which restores salvation to its proper position. The Church must gospel Jesus and call on the lost to proclaim Him as King. Only this can produce disciples who, now alive in Christ, follow Jesus’ “new commandments” and multiply.
McKnight did an excellent job laying out the processes that lead “Salvation Cultures” down the path of a corrupted Gospel. However, I would say that his early church history following the ascension of Christ is glossed over quite a bit. Yet, The King Jesus Gospel, has a biblical premise and for those who may be reluctant to admit it, proves that the Old Testament is just as relative today as it was in the past. Additionally, McKnight successfully argues for how Jesus completes Israel’s story and his chapter on “Creating a Gospel Culture” describes nicely what a church that preaches the Gospel should reflect.
The weaknesses in The King Jesus Gospel stem from the author himself. McKnight writes, “this book is a development of my own thinking” rather than a result of fervent prayer and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. He executes sweeping assumptions of the Church and presumes that Christians have never read their Bibles or been discipled under proper teaching. His manner of writing is also excessively convoluted and lacks the spiritual joy that should emanate from the Gospel. It is troubling that it takes nearly four chapters before he begins to define what his premise is. He teeters very close to works based salvation and in general his descriptions are severely lacking in grace. If one has absolute belief in something and it is aligned with Spiritual Truth, then there should be no problem being forthright on a matter as the Holy Spirit is quite able to convict the heart of the reader. This definitely is a drawback as it does not hold appeal for most laity.
Also, His strength in theology and sound doctrine come into question as he quotes from Pastor Fleming Rutledge titling her, “one of America’s best preachers”. There is much biblical witness that points to women’s roles in the Church and even though there are biblical exceptions where a woman was risen up due to a lack of male leadership, Paul in particular, and by implication Jesus and other biblical authors, is very vocal in his letters that a women not should be in the position of preaching or teaching over a church body. This view is supported by a number of leading theologians including Piper, Keller, and MacArthur. Gender roles are a fundamental issue relating to the Gospel and this “miss” serves to greatly decrease McKnight’s credibility. This may seem like a harsh criticism, but as a person who lives in a spiritual wasteland of pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality, and pro-carnal churches, can attest, this topic is particularly sensitive as the theology is inextricably linked and leaves behind a wilderness of mortally wounded. It is completely at odds with McKnight’s position four regarding Developing a Gospel Culture: “Developing Counter Stories”.
Lastly, the author criticizes the “Methods of Persuasion” throughout the book yet writes, “True gospeling that conforms to the apostolic gospel leads directly to who Jesus is, whatever the gospeler has to say to get folks to move in that direction”. Every minute 102 people die without knowing Jesus, a total of 146,357 people per day. Moreover, if all of the unsaved were lined up side by side, they would “circle the world 70 times. America needs a little more fire and brimstone urgency to wake people from their lackadaisical states as opposed to the prosperity and “boy-friend” Jesus gospel preaching they receive. The methods of evangelism that we use are directly tied to our personality and spiritual gifts. Those who have “dominant” personality types such as the apostle Paul, tend to be more active, aggressive, and determined to share their faith. It is a strong desire to warn people about their separation from God and eternal damnation. This does not mean that the Gospel is not expounded, it means that people must decide who Jesus is to them today as they may not have a tomorrow.
Issues Left Unanswered:
The author needs to expound on the contextualization of the Gospel and the decision making process involved in accepting salvation. McKnight barely touches on this subject and does not clearly lay out how a Gospel presentation or evangelism in general should take place in a conversation with the average person. It is not an issue that he criticizes the “Salvation Culture” model, but that he fails to provide a clear solution that he would find satisfactory. Jesus Himself evangelized by embarking on conversations with people that pointed out their idols which prevented them from positioning Him as their king. The author himself admits that Paul’s biblical audience did not know enough of “Israel’s Story” to understand the significance of Jesus’ incarnation. In examining Paul, we see that he starts where the people are in their understanding of God and places a heavy emphasis on sin, redemption, and resurrection. Therefore it appears that it circles back to a heavy emphasis on sin and salvation.
I do find it to be incredibly important that we not consider a person reached and to simply move on to the next person once they pray the sinner's prayer and accept Jesus. It is very important that they understand the larger Bible and how it all comes together. Some of the emails he includes in the book that he has received prove the need for some education as to the framework of the Biblical message and sadly reflect some of the questions I've been asked as well. If your people don't know what Jesus being the Messiah has to do with us being saved, or if they're asking if Jesus preached Paul's message, you would do well to spend more time teaching the actual content of the Bible rather than messages that build upon Biblical concepts your congregation isn't familiar with in the first place.
The author understandably spends quite a bit of time trying to reassure the reader that he is not speaking against personal salvation or the evangelism process, he is simply trying to get us to stop and spend some more time developing an understanding of the actual life and story of Jesus, and the rest of the Bible that is a very important part of the context and why we need a salvation in the first place.
He also spends some time highlighting that we are not done once we are saved and that there is a reason we are still here. Our behavior, actions, motivations, and routes through which we do evangelize and disciple others should be in keeping with what we know about Jesus. We are to live for Him in light of what He showed us. There is a lot more growth as a Christian that takes place after that conversion moment and too often Christians are allowed and even encouraged to sit in stagnation after that moment. If we really understood the Bible, it would not be the everyday car payments and such that take up 99% of our conscious awareness day in and day out.
The above quote from this very important book summarizes for me what Dr. Scot McKnight is trying to emphasize. I read his book twice because I wanted to make certain I had the answer to this this key question. What is the Gospel?
The Gospel is a big deal! We must get it right! This book will make certain we get it right. When we get it right, we are properly equipped to do God's work.
Before reading this book, my idea of the Gospel was way too small. It now is not. The Gospel is a story that first must be properly understood. Once understood, we will be ready to join and continue this story for future generations. This is a must read!