A “New Perspective on the Gospel”, the King Jesus Gospel 4

In the third chapter of his new book The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited, Scot McKnight makes the bold claim that evangelicals (he doesn’t exclude Catholics and Orthodox) have gotten the understanding of the gospel upside down, an understanding that has created unwanted effects. To make the point, Scot presents a hierarchy of evangelism categories (1) Story of Israel, (2) Story of Jesus, (3) Plan of Salvation, and (4) Method of Persuasion (35).

He believes that (1) for evangelicals the gospel has become equated with the elements of the “plan of salvation” and the “method of persuasion”, and (2) these categories “have been give so much weight that they are crushing and have crushed the Story of Israel and the Story of Jesus” (43).

His critique:

Our Method of Persuasion is shaped by a salvation culture and is designed from first to last to get people to make a decision so they can come safely inside the boundary lines of The Decided . . . Because we have crushed the Story of Israel and the Story of Jesus under the interpretation of the last two ideas–the Plan of Salvation and the Method of Persuasion, and I confess I’ve done the same–the gospel has lost its edge and its meaning. Nothing proves this more than  the near total ignorance of many Christians today of the Old Testament Story. One reason why so many Christians today don’t know the Old Testament is because their “gospel” doesn’t even need it! (43-44).

So Scot continues:

I will contend in the pages that follow that the word gospel belongs to one and only one of the four sets of terms, and I will contend that it belongs to the Story of Jesus as the resolution of Israel’s Story (44).

Do you think these categories are a useful delineation of the elements of the evangelism? To which of these categories does your understanding of gospel fit?

  • Justin Borger

    McKnight isn’t altogether true to his own distinction. He says that the gospel only belongs to one of these categories, namely, “the Story of Jesus” but he adds “as the resolution of Israel’s Story.” Could we not also say that the gospel belong to “the Story of Jesus” and add “as the Plan of Salvation”? He makes distinctions and then blurs them.

  • Justin Borger

    McKnight isn’t altogether true to his own distinction. He says that the gospel only belongs to one of these categories, namely, “the Story of Jesus” but he adds “as the resolution of Israel’s Story.” Could we not also say that the gospel belong to “the Story of Jesus” and add “as the Plan of Salvation”? He makes distinctions and then blurs them.

  • Sandfandw

    I think it makes a lot of sense to understand the story of Christ through the story of the Old Testament. It makes much more sense than reading the story of Jesus alone. I love the Old Testament, and as I come to the New Testament I thank God that in the fullness of time he sent his Son to die for ours sins. I always wonder what one would have felt to be a follower of Jesus. For a very long time Israel had been waiting for Yahweh’s deliverance through the Messiah. Finally Jesus the Messiah came – and he died and was raised! What a joy it would have been! I think that’s why the early Christians was much more willing to suffer with Christ.

  • Sandfandw

    I think it makes a lot of sense to understand the story of Christ through the story of the Old Testament. It makes much more sense than reading the story of Jesus alone. I love the Old Testament, and as I come to the New Testament I thank God that in the fullness of time he sent his Son to die for ours sins. I always wonder what one would have felt to be a follower of Jesus. For a very long time Israel had been waiting for Yahweh’s deliverance through the Messiah. Finally Jesus the Messiah came – and he died and was raised! What a joy it would have been! I think that’s why the early Christians was much more willing to suffer with Christ.

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  • Npmitchell

    I preached a sermon on 2 Timothy a few weeks back and one way I suggested of pushing against this problem was to take the God-Man-Christ-Response method and turn it into the God-Man-Israel-Christ-Response method.

  • Npmitchell

    I preached a sermon on 2 Timothy a few weeks back and one way I suggested of pushing against this problem was to take the God-Man-Christ-Response method and turn it into the God-Man-Israel-Christ-Response method.

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  • Duncan B

    The McKnight books sounds very good. I think that to some extent he is identifying the need for good Biblical theology which holds the whole of God’s word together. I think many Australian ministers have been influenced by the influential writer Graeme Goldsworthy who has strongly taught on the need to see Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament
    http://www.amazon.com/Graeme-Goldsworthy/e/B001JS62SG/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

  • Duncan B

    The McKnight books sounds very good. I think that to some extent he is identifying the need for good Biblical theology which holds the whole of God’s word together. I think many Australian ministers have been influenced by the influential writer Graeme Goldsworthy who has strongly taught on the need to see Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament
    http://www.amazon.com/Graeme-Goldsworthy/e/B001JS62SG/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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  • Alan Stanley

    Absolutely agree (as long as we start in Gen. 1 with the story). Seeing salvation as a decision has tended to distort things in the following ways:

    1) Salvation has become all about getting into heaven.

    2) Because of number 1, assurance has tended to get emphasised to the neglect of other important messages–like the need for perseverance for example.

    3) This has resulted in many “knowing” that the gospel is ‘good news’ (at least they’re told it is) but functionally on a day to day basis there are many other things that are (honestly) ‘better news.’

    4) At a popular level I think it would be fair to say that “Israel” still figures largely in people’s minds when it comes to the future. This is because we don’t see their story as being fulfilled in Christ.

  • Alan Stanley

    Absolutely agree (as long as we start in Gen. 1 with the story). Seeing salvation as a decision has tended to distort things in the following ways:

    1) Salvation has become all about getting into heaven.

    2) Because of number 1, assurance has tended to get emphasised to the neglect of other important messages–like the need for perseverance for example.

    3) This has resulted in many “knowing” that the gospel is ‘good news’ (at least they’re told it is) but functionally on a day to day basis there are many other things that are (honestly) ‘better news.’

    4) At a popular level I think it would be fair to say that “Israel” still figures largely in people’s minds when it comes to the future. This is because we don’t see their story as being fulfilled in Christ.

  • Bill Crawford

    Although the story of Israel and Jesus as Messiah are certainly important to understanding Scripture, it seems that the gospel addresses issues pre-dating the existence of Israel.

    I think that the hearer needs to recognize his or her brokenness that dates back to Adam. Conversion re-establishes the relationship to God and discipleship is the process of restoration of the image of God damaged in the fall.

    Not sure if the following makes sense but we can look at the gospel, salvation and discipleship as the life we live now. The story of Israel would be understanding the gestation that leads to the life.

    It seems practically speaking that Dr McKnight’s approach would have us telling a guilt-ridden sinner a history lesson when what he wants to know now is what must I do to be saved. The rest must follow, would lead to greater wonder and praise at God’s ways; I’m sure that’s what missing in many churches.

  • Bill Crawford

    Although the story of Israel and Jesus as Messiah are certainly important to understanding Scripture, it seems that the gospel addresses issues pre-dating the existence of Israel.

    I think that the hearer needs to recognize his or her brokenness that dates back to Adam. Conversion re-establishes the relationship to God and discipleship is the process of restoration of the image of God damaged in the fall.

    Not sure if the following makes sense but we can look at the gospel, salvation and discipleship as the life we live now. The story of Israel would be understanding the gestation that leads to the life.

    It seems practically speaking that Dr McKnight’s approach would have us telling a guilt-ridden sinner a history lesson when what he wants to know now is what must I do to be saved. The rest must follow, would lead to greater wonder and praise at God’s ways; I’m sure that’s what missing in many churches.


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