In chapter 2 of The King Jesus Gospel (2011), Scot McKnight focuses on the distinction between the gospel and salvation. The problem in the evangelical church is that we’ve equated the two when that’s not what Scripture teaches. Instead of calling ourselves “evangelicals” based on the Greek word euangelion (= gospel), Scot thinks it would be more accurate to call ourselves “soterians” based on the Greek word soteria (= salvation). Although, he really wants us to have a more biblically informed view of the gospel, so we could accurately call ourselves evangelicals.
There’s part of me that wants to say, “Duh”. Isn’t what Scot is saying obvious? Apparently not, at least for many Christians in the US. I was at a meeting recently where the leader spoke about “sharing the gospel”, but in reality he meant telling people how to make an expression of faith in Jesus in order to be saved. That’s certainly important, but isn’t the gospel bigger than that?
At the end of the chapter, McKnight introduces us to the mysterious character “Pastor Eric.” (I wasn’t sure who Eric was so I had to double-check to see if he’d mentioned Eric previously, but I couldn’t find any.) Pastor Eric exemplifies the problem since he is essentially a soterian. For Eric, the gospel doesn’t involve a call to imitate Jesus, it isn’t an announcement that Jesus is Lord and King, it isn’t an invitation to the church. That’s a problem.
In the rest of the book, Scot is going to help us understand what Jesus and the New Testament authors meant by the term “gospel”. Sounds like an important discussion.
How is the gospel more than just telling people about how to be “saved”?