A simple Google search of “gospel” reveals the general cultural confusion around this somewhat loaded term. Within pages, you can find a “gospel according to” fictional figures such as Bart Simpson, Snoopy, or Spiderman; corporations such as Disney, Pixar, or Starbucks; and famous current figures such as Oprah, Justin Bieber, or J.K. Rowling.
While these obvious Gospel alternatives may be easy to laugh at, it is clear that other “gospels” have made their way into our hearts and lives in a more covert fashion. The “gospels” of individualism, consumerism, and moral relativism find a welcome home in many American churches without being challenged. It is the mission of people like Scot McKnight (who is both a pastor and a scholar) to help the church focus on the true Gospel, which he does an incredible job of accomplishing in his most recent book, The King Jesus Gospel.
McKnight’s clear thinking and deep analysis of the New Testament cuts through the confusion surrounding terms like gospel, salvation, and evangelism. He distinguishes between four elements that often get mixed together when we use these terms: the Story of Israel, the Story of Jesus, the Plan of Salvation, and the Method of Persuasion. With the support of the Gospel writers, Paul, and Peter, McKnight builds a strong case for the idea that when the New Testament authors referred to “the Gospel”, they were referring primarily to the Story of Jesus:
“…a gospel culture is one shaped by the Story of Israel and the Story of Jesus Christ, a story that moves from creation to consummation, a story that tells the whole Story of Jesus and not just a Good Friday story, and a story that tells not just of personal salvation but of God being ‘all in all.'”
While the Story of Jesus is the culmination of the Story of Israel, while it leads us into the Plan of Salvation, and while we share it using different Methods of Persuasion, McKnight contends that ultimately, any understanding of Gospel must focus on the Story of Jesus. As a result of this, any of our current-day “Gospeling” (or evangelism) must maintain this central focus as well:
“We need to talk more about Jesus and know that telling others about Jesus is half the battle when it comes to fear of evangelism. We can improve our evangelism simply by learning to approach the gospel in the apostolic manner.”
The combination of deep understanding and practical concerns in The King Jesus Gospel make it well worth the read – get it soon and get Gospeling!