Tuesday, November 01, 2011

McKnight 2

I don't know how fast I'll be able to work through Scot McKnight's King Jesus Gospel, but here is a second post.  The first one is here.

Chapter 1 presents the "big question" of the book: "What is the gospel?"  He gives three stories in this chapter.  The first was an email wondering what the fact that Jesus is king has to do with the gospel--the assumption being that personal salvation is the center of the gospel.  The second was John Piper demonstrating to a conference that Jesus taught Paul's justification by faith by finding a rare instance in the gospels where the word justified is used (Luke 18).  The third was a casual conversation with a pastor who not only did not think Jesus preached the gospel (of justification by faith) but that he couldn't have because he was on the "before it could happen" side of the cross.

Then we get McKnight's basic point, something those who have read something like Wright's What Saint Paul Really Said will recognize.  This is not what the New Testament means when it talks about the gospel.    Scott F. asked in a comment after the last post what difference it really makes.  I think some possibilities will emerge as we work through McKnight's book.

Since it is still Reformation Day as I prepare this post for Tuesday morning, let me say that one effect is to clarify our emphases.  On the one hand, I am a little more open to using the word gospel in a very general way in relation to these sorts of things.  On the basis of the sermons of Acts, I believe all the consequences of the good news are part of the good news.  So in that sense, I am willing to say that justification by faith is part of the good news just like the resurrection and all that other good stuff is.

This is by extension, however.  It don't think it was in the bubble over any New Testament author's head in a single instance where the word "gospel" is used in the New Testament.  Justification by faith was not even the focus of Paul's preaching (the cross was... no, they're not the same... the cross is about something Jesus did, not something I do), let alone what appeared in the bubble over his head when he used the word gospel.

And it WAY was not the focus of Jesus' preaching, and certainly not what the gospels mean by the word gospel in any instance where they use the word.  This really annoys Scot. "Isn't the more important question about whether Paul preached Jesus' gospel?" he says, gently questioning John Piper's quest to show that Jesus preached Paul's gospel (25).  

So there are at least two reasons to read Wright and McKnight on this topic: 1) just to get it right and 2) to get our emphasis right...

1 comment:

JRS said...

Fast or slow your thoughts are helpful.