King’s Cross 2

Tim Keller’s newest book, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, is scheduled to be available today, so it’s a good time to dip into his second chapter.

What is the gospel according to Jesus? What do you think of Keller’s two-fold idea about the gospel?

The Gospel of Mark opens with a pronouncement by Jesus about the gospel: “The time has been fulfilled. The Kingdom of God has drawn near. Repent and believe in the gospel.” That announcement is followed by Jesus’ call to discipleship.

Keller examines two themes in this chp: the gospel and the call.

The gospel. Keller discusses the gospel in two ways, one through the lens of our inability and one through the lens of Jesus’ vision. The word “gospel” has connections to the Roman world’s announcement of history-changing events, and what changed with Jesus was that we moved from “religion” to the “gospel” — from advice on how to live to someone doing it all for us.

This leads him to the gospel of the kingdom, where God is King and we have chosen to be our own king but the good news is that Jesus is that true King. More could be made of the “time has come” and thus tie gospel to the completion/fulfillment of Israel’s Story.

Gospel implies discipleship: Jesus’ words “Come follow me” are the summons to make Jesus preeminent where “everything else comes second” (19). He discusses discipleship over against a cultural trend: the problem with fanaticism and the problem of moderation. The way out of this is gospel: “If you seize that gift and keep holding onto it, then Jesus’ call won’t draw you into fanaticism or moderation. You will be passionate to make Jesus your absolute goal and priority, to orbit around him; yet when you meet somebody with a different set of priorities, a different faith, you won’t assume that they’re inferior to you. You’ll actually serve them rather than oppress them” (21).

The gospel is “about being called to follow a King” (21). This King is Someone who with the authority and power to do what needs to be done.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://bradboydston.com Brad Boydston

    Must be some incredible book. They’re charging $13 for the Kindle edition. What’s up with that?

  • http://forestlakebible.com Chris Phillips

    As a pastor, I appreciate Keller’s efforts to simplify what is at many times difficult to explain.

  • Dana Ames

    I have no problem with Keller’s conclusions.

    I just wish we had bibles that employed 20th century rather than 14th/15th century English. I like to think there would be less confusion if our bibles read

    “announcing the good news about the kingdom of God”

    or

    “proclaiming the announcement of the kingdom of God”.

    In general, I think what the kingdom of God *is* has been ignored, and we’re really hung up on techniques for the announcement of something we blithely go on thinking is “gospel”, as if we all know what everyone means when we say that word. As I re-read the Gospels looking for the answer to my question, “What does *Jesus* say ‘the Gospel’ *is*? it was a total shock to me that it had nearly nothing to do with what I had previously believed it was.

    Finding out what the phrase “kingdom of God” meant to first century Jews, as far as we can ascertain, was one of the significant things that changed the trajectory of my walk with God.

    btw Scot, catching up on my reading, I just read your “Jesus vs Paul” article. It’s a good start for people who want to find a way out of the tension. Doesn’t go far enough, imnsho :) but perhaps that wasn’t its goal. I think it can stretch people and encourage further investigation, and that’s a good thing.

    Dana

  • Matt Edwards

    I haven’t read the book, but I’m not sure I agree with the “Gospel” being a move from “advice on how to live” to “someone doing it for us.” Jesus gave a lot of advice on how to live, or as John Meier puts it, “The historical Jesus is the halakic Jesus.”

    What does it look like to make Jesus “your absolute goal and priority” without changing the way you live?

  • Albion

    I’ll be interested to see how Keller develops the KG in this book.

    I read the footnotes in Generous Justice the other day (just to see who he’s citing) and he kicked the can down the road on KG, saying it is interpreted many different ways and wasn’t essential to the point of his book (which may tell you all you need to know about his views on KG). He’s doesn’t appear to be moving off C16 understanding of and approach to scripture. Lots of CS Lewis, DA Carson, Bauckham and Edwards in King’s Cross.

  • Jeff L

    Albion,
    what do you mean by “C16″?
    Thanks in advance.

  • Jason

    #4 Matt, The word gospel was used within the context of the announcement of a historical event that has direct implications on your life. For example the statement “the war is over” is a gospel. You can continue to live as if the war is going on but its over and the implications of the war being over are now upon you. That’s not advice.

    Likewise the implications of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension are the gospel. Its only when the gospel takes root that you realize the commands of the Christian life are grounded in the life producing news. Before this happens, you are right, the heart will cling to it as advice – self salvation is still lord.

  • Dana Ames

    JeffL,
    my guess is that Albion is using shorthand for “16th Century”.

    Dana

  • Albion

    JeffL. Dana is correct. I used to write 16C. Now I used C16 b/c that’s what I noticed theologians doing. (Which must be to make it easier to read I guess.) I’m a lemming when it comes to stuff like that.


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