Scot McKnight in his new book The King Jesus Gospel contends that evangelicals today are really “soterians” (“salvationists”) instead of truly evangelicals. He means by this that most have equated the word “gospel” with “salvation”. But the two words, says Scot, are different. His argument is that biblically the concept of “gospel” is a much wider than simply the issue of personal salvation, although it surely includes it. This confusion, according to Scot, has led to what he calls a “salvation culture”- “a culture that focuses on and measures people on the basis of whether they can witness to an experience of personal salvation” (30). The problem with a salvation culture is in its obsession with securing decisions for Christ, it creates the problem of getting the decided to be a disciple.
A salvation culture does not require The Members or The Decided to become The Discipled for salvation. Why not? Because its gospel is a gospel shaped entirely with the “in and out” issue of salvation. Because it’s about making a decision. In this book we want to show that the gospel of Jesus and that of the apostles, both of which created a gospel culture and not simply a salvation culture, was a gospel carried within it the power, the capacity, and the requirement to summon people who wanted to be “in” to be The Discipled. In other words, it swallowed up a salvation culture into a gospel culture (33).
Do you agree with Scot’s view that the terms and concepts of “salvation” and “gospel” are not identical? Do you agree with the implication he draws from the distinction? Are you a “soterian” or an “evangelical”?