the weblog of Alan Knox

A robust gospel…

Posted by on Jun 13, 2007 in blog links, discipleship | 6 comments

A few days ago, Scot McKnight (“Jesus Creed“) posted an outline of his presentation at the “Spiritual Formation Forum“. According to Scot, his talk was “dedicated to a one-sided emphasis on the need for a gospel that will lead Christians to realize that spiritual formation is not just about individual spiritual formation but also about ecclesial spiritual formation”.

Scot provides the following as “The Standard Gospel Presentation”:

God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
Your problem is that you are sinful; God can’t admit sinners into his presence.
Jesus died for you to deal with your “sin-problem.”
If you trust in Christ, you can be admitted into God’s presence.

Recognizing several problems in this presentation (including the individualistic emphasis and the fact that no one in Scripture presents this type of gospel), Scot suggests the following as a more robust gospel presentation:

  1. A Robust gospel can’t be “tractified.”
  2. God made you as an Eikon to relate in love to God, to self, to others and to the world.
  3. The “fall” cracked the Eikon in all four directions.
  4. Bible readers can’t skip from Genesis 3 to Romans 3.
  5. Genesis 4—11 reveals the “problem” of sin: the climax is a society of Eikons trying to build their way to God.
  6. Genesis 12 begins to restore the Eikon by (1) covenantal commitment and (2) forming the family of faith. THE REST OF THE BIBLE IS ABOUT THIS ELECTED FAMILY OF FAITH.
  7. The “problem” is finally resolved in “four atoning moments”: the life of Jesus, the death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  8. The “locus” of resolution is the family of faith: three big words in Bible are Israel, the Kingdom, and the Church.

I like the way that McKnight’s “presentation” takes the entire biblical record into account, and the fact that this presentation is not just about me and God, but instead it includes me into the family that God is building.

Also, notice that Scot presented this as part of a forum on spiritual formation. A presentation of the gospel should be the starting point on a road to spiritual formation. The “Standard Presentation” seems to jump to the end, without taking the person’s life into account. The “Robust Presentation” seems to take into account that the gospel is the beginning of a journey into the family of God that will affect the person’s life.

So, what say you? I’ve used the “Standard Presentation” before. Have you? What do you think of McKnight’s robust presentation as compared to the standard presentation?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 6-13-2007

    Alan, I like what your analysis of Scot’s thoughts on this.

    And I concur. We need a gospel big enough not only for justification and forgiveness of us individually, but a gospel that is as big as the gospel of the Bible, impacting all creation. And we end up in Christ, being part of God’s kingdom answer in Christ’s redemptive, reconciling work.

  2. 6-14-2007

    The standard presentation is utterly useless in Middle Earth for Muslim people. They do not think of sin as we do and do not crave forgiveness as Westerners do. Their issues are with community and family. So, Scot’s presentation makes a much more powerful message than the standard. The only problem with it is that no one I know knows what an ‘Eikon’ is.

  3. 6-14-2007

    Our presentation of the good news must be robust. What really makes this happen is when we are living incarnationally, and we can impart the gospel as something that is alive in us and in the church.

    The words and presentation are meaningless unless accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit. And yes, it must definitely lead to the church, rather than a remote “personal relationship.”

    I realize that Scot was talking to an educated forum who was accustomed to the terminology, but the robust gospel must be coherent to the culture. If you can’t translate “Eikon” to the checker at the grocery store, you’d better hang it up (ht CS Lewis).

  4. 6-14-2007

    Here, McKnight decries the Romans Road presentation of the gospel. I think he is on to something, but I think the real problem is that most of our evangelism has been based on the presumption that most Americans already have a Christian worldview. So, in essence, we have just gotten people to assent to knowledge they already believe. This “new” presentation (which still seems at least a little “tractified” to me) is better suited to explain the gospel in our “post-everything” world. I think the best gospel presentation, in my humble opinion, is the simple but powerful embodying of the gospel within the lives of believers and the church–not a “presentation” where we try to sum it all up.

  5. 6-16-2007

    I appreciate the comments. I also agree that any presentation is worthless apart from the working of the Holy Spirit, and that any presentation should be understandable (i.e. what does Eikon mean?), and that our lives should demonstrate the gospel. I’m glad all these were added to this discussion.


  6. 6-16-2007

    I think the following is a great approach. My wife forwarded me this email.

    > We have some exciting news, Friends and Family!
    > Sirens began to blare throughout Dubuque, an urgent
    > tornado watch had
    > just been issued. The 400 people attending the
    > Emmaus Iron Sharpens
    > Iron conference were herded down into bowels of the
    > school. The tornado
    > had touched down about 20 miles northwest of our
    > town and was headed our
    > way (so said the news). As soon as I heard what was
    > going on I knew
    > that all of Dubuque would be sitting on the edge of
    > their seats and the
    > conditions would be prime for some serious
    > evangelism. Once I had made
    > sure that Amy and the kids were safe I grabbed a
    > friend and we went out
    > to do some door-to-door. As evangelists we must
    > make the most of
    > current events� and this was really current!
    > My friend Mike and I went through the pouring down
    > rain across the
    > street and knocked at the first house. A
    > middle-aged angry looking man
    > with his two pit-bulls answered the door. I could
    > see his TV in the
    > living room was tuned to the tornado watch and so I
    > said, “Sir, as
    > you know there is a tornado headed our way and my
    > friend and I are
    > interested in hearing what people’s thoughts are.”
    > I continued,
    > “Are you a bit worried?” He said, “Yeah I’m
    > worried.
    > Anyone that’s watching the news has to be worried.”
    > Then I
    > asked, “If that tornado hits Dubuque, destroys your
    > house and kills
    > you, where do you think you would spend eternity?”
    > He gave me an
    > incredulous look and said, “A tornado is headed our
    > way, you guys
    > are soaking wet and you’re knocking on doors talking
    > about
    > eternity?!” I said, “What better time?”
    > After that we were able to fully share the gospel
    > with this guy. He was
    > extremely open to spiritual things despite his
    > appearance, and I’m
    > sure that the conversation would never have been
    > possible without the
    > help of a tornado scare. Our time ended with the
    > man being very
    > convicted, my friend and I being very wet and the
    > tornado being very
    > gone.
    > And now on a very different note we are excited to
    > let you know of our
    > upcoming plans. School is done and we are gearing
    > up to go back to
    > Peru. We have decided to delay our trip 2 months
    > and we’ll be back
    > in Peru after the baby is born, around the middle of
    > September. In the
    > mean time I (Micah) will take a trip to Peru to
    > teach at IBEM (the Bible
    > Institute) and also to find a house for our family
    > to settle into when
    > we all arrive. In these next three months we will
    > be working, packing,
    > wrapping up ministries and visiting the Portland, OR
    > area. See our next
    > letter for dates and details. Please pray for us as
    > we gear up for
    > these next few very busy months.

    PS another time I have found that people are wide open for the gospel is Holoween night.