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).
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?