Saturday, November 12, 2011

McKnight 9: "The Gospel of Peter"

Next is chapter 8 of Scot McKnight's King Jesus Gospel

Intro: Evangelism Explosion
Chap. 1: The Big Question: What is the Gospel?
Chap. 2:Gospel Culture vs Salvation Culture
Chap. 3:From Salvation to Story
Chap. 4: The Gospel of Paul
Chap. 5: Salvation Takes Over the Gospel
Chap. 6: The Gospel in the Gospels
Chap. 7: Jesus and the Gospel

Chapter 8 is called, "The Gospel of Peter."  What Scot means by “The Gospel of Peter” is basically the gospel in Acts.  From my perspective, it is the gospel in Acts that actually fits almost exactly with what he has been saying the gospel is continuously in the whole New Testament.

For the record, I personally would break it down more precisely like this:
  • John the Baptist—gospel is the good news of God’s approaching kingdom (our God reigns from Isaiah 52:7), including the restoration of Israel, its “return from captivity” 
  • Jesus—very similar to John the Baptist, but with a restoration focus on restoring the “lost sheep” of Israel, and with Jesus seeing himself as messiah within that kingdom
  • Paul—gospel is especially announcement of the inaugurated kingship of Jesus (Rom. 1:2-3), which commenced with the resurrection... of course the death is good news too because he died for our sins
  • In Acts, the story of salvation culminating in the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus is the good news
So I agree with Scot more than anywhere else in the book that he has the right sense of what gospel means in Acts.  "The sermons in Acts put muscle and fat on that very 'according to the Scriptures' bone in the apostolic gospel tradition" (117).  "In those early apostolic sermons, we see the whole life of Jesus... if they gave an emphasis to one dimension of the life of Jesus, it was the resurrection" (120). Scot makes a point of the fact that the sermons of Peter and Paul in Acts have very similar content, namely, that their gospel was the same.

He makes a point further that "there is no such thing as gospeling that does not include the summons to respond in faith, repentance, and baptism" (127).  He ventures to say what these are: "faith is the big idea with repentance and baptism as manifestations of that faith" (129).

Very much looking forward to see what he does with all this plowing.  I sense much of the book thus far has been lead up.  What is the pay off?  The next two chapters, I suspect, will tell us.
Two notes if we were to take the discussion of the chapter to the next level.  The first is the question of Acts as a theological perspective in dialog with Acts as a presentation of history.  Scot mentions James Dunn's claim that Paul preaches the same basic message as Peter in Acts.  He does not mention one way of interpreting that fact, namely, that the sermons of Acts are as much a presentation of Luke's theology as they are precise historical memories of apostolic sermons.

The second is the question of the degree to which Acts--or the methods of the early church for that matter--presents us with a model to imitate.  If Acts models how people in a pagan world (and who have never heard of Jesus) come to Christ, how do people who have heard about Jesus all their life embrace him?  The model of embracing affirmation might not be as event oriented.  I think different models might sometimes play out.

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