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Ed Stetzer and Scot McKnight discuss The King Jesus Gospel

Categories Theology New Testament

King Jesus GospelRecently Ed Stetzer interviewed Scot McKnight about his latest book, The King Jesus Gospel. During the interview they discussed McKnight’s definition of the “soterian” gospel, his critique of John Piper, and how our understanding of the Gospel influences our understanding of mission.

Below is an excerpt of their conversation, and you can read the full interview here.


“1. What was your primary purpose for writing this book? 

I have been working on "gospel" for about a decade, beginning in my classes at North Park and some of this has been written up in Embracing Grace and A Community Called Atonement. All along I had a sneaking suspicion that a whole new angle had to be found in order to open up a more completely biblical approach to the meaning of gospel. I had been following a traditional line of thinking and trying to be more biblical. That is, I was following the line of thinking that gospel and salvation (soteriology in technical terms) were more or less the same thing. 

I was seeking to expand salvation to biblical proportions - personal, physical, church, society - and I joined many voices in that pursuit. But all along I kept asking myself: what about 1 Corinthians 15, which doesn't focus on salvation but on Jesus as Messiah and Lord, and most especially I kept asking where to put the gospel sermons in Acts? For a set of lectures in Stellenbosch I devoted myself to the Book of Acts and around the same time I became convinced that Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) are the gospel itself. 

This set of factors is the entire purpose of why I wrote this book: I wanted to offer a more biblical view of gospel and to put what many of us (and I was one of them) call gospel to the test.

3. In the book you seem to want to emphasize the differences between
 what you call a "soterian" gospel and the full evangelical gospel? How
do you define these and why do you believe it's necessary to distinguish between them?

In brief, the soterian (Greek word for salvation) gospel is a message of how to get saved from sins and how to be properly related to God. In brief, the apostolic gospel makes the Story of Israel and the Story of Jesus first, and not my personal salvation, and makes personal salvation second. I distinguish the two because our current models of the gospel -- and here I ask that we consider what we tell people who we think are not Christians -- do not sufficiently pay attention to how the New Testament talks about the gospel. We can find that gospel in 1 Cor 15, the sermons in Acts, and in the Gospels. I constantly ask this question: Do you think the gospel is found in those three points?

In brief, it works like this: the soterian gospel is a message of salvation without the Bible's Story (Israel fulfilled in Jesus as Messiah and Lord) and the Story gospel I am pleading with us to consider more carefully has both the Story line and the salvation message.

The alternative is not "Story" vs. "salvation" but Story with salvation vs. salvation with no Story.”

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