The King Jesus Gospel: A Review

I’ve been almost completely offline the past couple weeks, so I’m behind on everything.  But I just noticed that Leadership Journal published my review of Scot Mcknight’s new book The King Jesus Gospel.

McKnight’s central critique is that contemporary evangelicals have reduced the gospel to the plan of salvation, or to the question of how an individual gets saved. McKnight is careful not to dismiss the importance of personal salvation or of justification by faith, but he contends that the plan of salvation is not the whole gospel, and that in equating the two, evangelicals have made a dangerous mistake.

McKnight writes that the gospel is “the salvation-unleashing Story of Jesus, Messiah-Lord-Son that brings to completion the Story of Israel as found in the Scriptures of the Old Testament.” McKnight unpacks 1 Corinthians 15, observing how the Good News includes not only Christ’s saving work on the cross but also the rest of the story: the Resurrection, birth of the church, and the fact that we are moving forward to the “full consummation of the kingdom when God becomes all in all.”

This expanded understanding of the gospel shifts the terms of the discussion. In a brief interaction with John Piper, McKnight points out that asking whether Jesus preached Paul’s gospel is a legitimate question, but that the question is backwards. Since the gospel comes from the Gospels, he contends, we shouldn’t be asking if Jesus agrees with Paul, but whether Paul agrees with Jesus. For McKnight the primary presentation of the Good News comes from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. To define the gospel as the plan of salvation (and specifically, justification by faith) is to ignore this crucial fact.

 

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  • greg

    Matt,

    Does he unpack the characteristics of a king?

    • Matthew Lee Anderson

      Greg, no, he really doesn’t. It’s much more about the relationship between the kingship of Jesus and the place of justification.

  • http://Bensonianorg Christopher Benson

    Matt: I just read your clearly-written review. You’ve done a good job of getting me interested in McKnight’s book. The passage below induces a hearty “Amen!”

    “In a brief interaction with John Piper, McKnight points out that asking whether Jesus preached Paul’s gospel is a legitimate question, but that the question is backwards. Since the gospel comes from the Gospels, he contends, we shouldn’t be asking if Jesus agrees with Paul, but whether Paul agrees with Jesus. For McKnight the primary presentation of the Good News comes from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. To define the gospel as the plan of salvation (and specifically, justification by faith) is to ignore this crucial fact.”

    • Matthew Lee Anderson

      Thanks, Christopher. It’s a good read!

  • http://Bensonianorg Christopher Benson

    One more thing. Mere-O readers who are looking for an in-depth review of the book should read Michael Horton’s perceptive review:

    http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2011/10/13/are-you-a-soterian/

  • http://www.ricksbell.com Rick

    From your review, it seems like McKnight and Piper may have missed something special about the differences between the messages of Paul and Jesus. I’ve written about how they work together:
    http://www.ricksbell.com/2011/11/pauls-gospel/