Thinking Out Loud

October 28, 2016

The Four Gospels; Not the Four You Think

Filed under: books, Christianity, reviews — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:38 am

king-jesus-gospelFor years I’ve enjoyed reading Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog online, but only recently did I consider the possibility that I’ve been depriving myself by not reading more of his works in print, at least the less academic ones. The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited is a book that recently underwent what the industry terms a “trade paper conversion” as did another title we’ll consider later in the season, A Fellowship of Differents. (Both titles Zondervan.)

McKnight begins with the thesis that when ask, “Have you heard the gospel?” we could be basically referencing up to four things:

  1. The Method of Persuasion
  2. The Plan of Salvation
  3. The Story of Jesus
  4. The Story of Israel / Story Arc of the Bible

He would say that the first two tend to overshadow the second two. He then launches into an extended consideration of the gospel

  1. as preached by Paul (there are reasons he begins there)
  2. as recorded or emphasized by the gospel writers (the synoptics plus John)
  3. as taught by Jesus
  4. as preached by Peter (representing the book of Acts, overlapping with Paul)

Throughout the book, McKnight uses the verb gospeling to describe the process of proclamation as well as the idea of gospeling the gospel.  You also encounter the word soterians, people who equate the gospel to a means of salvation. (Not the aliens in a Star Trek episode, as some of you were thinking.) 

With so many different emphases reflecting so many different doctrinal patterns, the book leaves some unanswered questions — this is, after all, a condensation of much longer scholarly writing — but Chapter 9 – Gospeling Today, is particularly helpful in our present context and builds toward the conclusion in Chapter 10 – Creating a Gospel Culture, where in five pages, McKnight presents his own summary statement of the gospel. The whole book is really a stacking of premise upon premise leading to this encapsulation.

For him, the gospel as the account of Israel’s redemption is paramount to any other consideration. Several appendices record the Bible’s summary statements of its gospel and analysis of the sermons in the Book of Acts.

I am richer for having read this book as it helps me to clarify what it is I need to be saying — and not saying — when opportunity arises to share the good news.


Thanks to Mark at HarperCollins Christian Publishing in Canada for an opportunity to read this title, now in paperback from Zondervan.


Related: 2009 review of The Blue Parakeet by the same author.

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June 3, 2010

The Difference Between Religion and Christ

At least once a week, I have the opportunity to share a simple overview of the difference between religion and Christianity with someone.   I wrote about it in September, 2008, but the essence of it is:

Q. How do you spell religion?

A. D-O — Do this, do that, do the other thing. Your standing before God is/will be based on what you do.

Q. How do you spell Christianity?

A. D-O-N-E — It’s all been done for us. There is nothing we can do to earn it, it is the gift of God.

The response I’ve had to this over the years has always been positive — it shatters many false perceptions — and I’m grateful to the former YFC staff worker who introduced it to me over a decade ago.

Justin Buzzard, who blogs from California, has taken a look at Tim Keller‘s The Gospel in Life curriculum, and has extracted more detail on the contrast between religion and the Good News, and has put it in chart form on Buzzard Blog.  (Check out the whole blog!)   Here it is for your consideration:

April 18, 2009

The Susan Boyle Phenomenon

Filed under: Christianity, Faith — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:43 pm

It’s 10:40 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.    Adding up ONLY the clips that appear on the FIRST YouTube “Most Viewed” page, and NOT COUNTING the ones that are subsequent interview clips or background reports, we’re currently looking at 63.7 MILLION hits.   And this doesn’t include clips on Vimeo and other video upload sites.

susan-boyle

Obviously, there is more at work here than simply want to see Simon Cowell at a loss for words.    And it’s more than just the Andy Warholl sentiment that “in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes, or 63.7 million YouTube hits, whichever is larger.”   Well, maybe not the second part.

It’s our desire to hear a good news story.   It’s our desire for calm; for tranquility.   It’s a dash of peace in a world of war, economic collapse and personal heartbreaks.    Like the old Anne Murray song says, “We sure could use a little good news today.”

It’s a story only rivaled this week by the President of the United States’ new dog.   These two stories are the escape people are looking for.    But Susan’s story also brings hope to all kinds of talented people who are searching for their own personal big break; people who have dreams…

It IS a story that makes you smile.

If a tag brought you here, this is a blog about another kind of hope, brought to the world 2,000 years ago in the person of Jesus Christ, in the story that we celebrated last week at Easter.    The need for a hope and a future is something basic to everyone.   Even more years ago, someone wrote, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”

It’s true today.   Some trust in technology, some trust in science, some trust in the resilience of the human spirit; but ultimately, God is the only one we can fully trust.

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