I’ve had sporadic internet these last couple days. Rome is not for the faint of heart. May post my reflections on the trip when I’m back in Germany.
The previous summaries of McKnight’s King Jesus Gospel are:
Evangelism Explosion and
The Big Question: What is the Gospel?
Today, chapter 2: Gospel Culture vs Salvation Culture
Scot begins the chapter by showing his evangelical
credentials: “Personal faith is both necessary and nonnegotiable” (28). He adds, “The sacramental process isn’t
enough; there must be a call to personal faith” (29).
I would reword these comments as these statements still have
a very cultural feel to me. Crucial for
me as a Wesleyan is the point at which the Spirit makes personal faith
possible. At that point, personal
faith is both necessary and nonnegotiable.
Nevertheless, I agree with Scot’s basic point, which is to address people
who might think that their lives and attitudes are irrelevant to their status
with God because they were baptized as a child or because they participate in
Mass every once and a while. The
sacraments do not work in the heart of the Devil.
He then gives the thesis of the book: “We evangelicals (as a
whole) are not really ‘evangelical’ in the sense of the apostolic gospel, but
instead we are soterians” (29). The
distinction he is making between the two is that a gospel culture will move a
person beyond entrance into the church (where the sacramentalists sometimes
stop), beyond bringing people to a salvation decision (where the “soterians”
stop) to discipleship and maturity (where a true “evangelical,” gospel culture would
A “salvation culture” is thus one that “focuses on and
measures people on the basis of whether they can witness to an experience of
personal salvation” (30). This sort of
approach, he is saying, is “soterian” rather than truly evangelical.
I think most of us, especially Wesleyans, would agree with
his basic point. We have overemphasized
a moment of decision and neglected discipleship. I will be interested to see how he develops
it. It still seems to me to miss out on
the fact that some people’s decision for Christ may not happen as consciously
as he is still discussing it. It must
happen when the Spirit presents the light of Christ, but it may not be a
dramatic decision point of which a person is fully conscious. This orientation neglects the fact that most
of who we are is a function of our subconscious mind.
His use of the word gospel and salvation still don’t seem changed
radically enough. We’ll have to wait to
see what he does with gospel but in this chapter it still seems focused too
much on us as individuals rather than on King Jesus—I suspect that will change
as we move on.
My main critique would be that his understanding of
salvation seems too narrow. The word
salvation is sometimes used for physical healing and rarely if ever used in
relation to justification. Paul’s use of
the word is overwhelmingly focused on escaping God’s wrath in the coming judgment.
The question of who will be saved is a whole different can
of worms and much bigger than the very narrow way Scot is talking about it in
terms of getting a person into the church to the point of decision. So I think I get his point, but so far I’m
finding the way he’s presenting it a little strange to me.