Scot McKnight presents his definition of the “gospel” from 1 Corinthians 15 in the fourth chapter of his new book The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited. He calls it the “apostolic gospel”. For Scot it is the place where we must begin. What is the apostolic gospel?
According to Scot’s reading of 1 Cor 15, it is “to announce the good news about key events in the life of Jesus” (1 Cor 15:3-5). 1 Cor 15 places the Jesus story in relationship to the Israel Story: “the gospel Story of Jesus Christ resolves or brings to completion the Story of Israel as found in the Scriptures”. So, “The apostolic gospel story is an “according-to-Scriptures telling of the Story of Jesus”. To put it to a sharp point: “the ‘good news’ of this gospel is that Israel’s Story has now reached its resolution in Jesus Christ”.
Where does salvation fit? Scot answers that: “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 . . . however we tell the Story of Jesus, that story must deal with ‘sins’ . . . it must aim at showing that the gospel saves“.
The most provocative point of the chapter is Scot’s assertion soterians have a truncated gospel. They have a “Good-Friday-only gospel” (55), a gospel whose definition ends with 1 Cor 15:5. Scot’s definition of the “gospel” does not stop at 15:5 but goes on through verses 20-28. For Scot the “complete” gospel, the one that Paul received and handed on, was one that included Jesus’ resurrection, ascension and second coming and consummation of the kingdom in addition to his death.
The gospel for the apostle Paul is the salvation-unleashing Story of Jesus, Messiah-Lord-Son, that brings to completion the Story of Israel as found in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. To “gospel” is to declare this story, and it is a story that saves people from their sins. That story is the only framing story if we want to be apostolic in how we present the gospel. We can frame the “gospel” with other stories or categories, but there is one holy and apostolic story, and it is the Story of Israel. That is the apostolic framing story for the gospel (61).
What do you think about Scot’s definition of the gospel? What are its strengths? Are their weaknesses?