Scot McKnight begins The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited (Sept. 2011) with a personal story that may resonate with many evangelicals. As a seventeen year-old he went door-to-door with a deacon from church. Even though they shared “the gospel” and the man they visited “made a decision” something was wrong. The convert seemed to feel pressured and his motivation to “accept Jesus” came not from a deep personal hunger, but in order to remove the two strangers from his house. Scot never saw him at church.
This evangelistic experience is, unfortunately, not unique. And it led Scot to become somewhat cynical about evangelism, particularly forms that seemed “slick and manipulative” (p. 21).
Scot’s book is essentially asking a question that is crucial to evangelicals since it should define who we are: “What is the gospel?” (Scot’s book has not one, but two Forewords–NT Wright and Dallas Willard–which tells you something about the importance of the subject he has undertaken.)
In Chapter 1, Scot offers 3 exhibits for why the Evangelical perspective on the gospel is off. 1) An emailer wondered to Scot what why does it matter that Jesus was the Messiah. 2) John Piper is able to just barely find evidence that Jesus spoke about justification, which is of course the essence of the gospel. 3) Another pastor (unnamed by Scot) tells Scot that Jesus essentially didn’t get to preach “the gospel” because he was, in Scot’s words, “born on the wrong side of the cross.”
Hmm. I think we have a problem if Jesus didn’t preach the gospel. Yes, perhaps our understanding of the gospel is a little off.
Personally, I love Paul, but if I had to choose between Paul and Jesus, it’s going to be Jesus every time. So, far, I’m in agreement with Scot McKnight.
(I wonder, will my blog posts on his book affect his sales as much as his did for my book? Just wondering. For his posts on GBB, click here.)
What do you think Jesus thought was the gospel?