It should never surprise me when I notice something I read because it's been on my list for years or I signed up for a review turns out to be woven perfectly into the themes that God is speaking into my life at that time. However time and time again, I find myself totally taken aback by the way in which He manages to pull it all together. I never suspected this review to tie in so seamlessly with everything I'm reading this first term of seminary.
The King Jesus Gospel
by Scot McKnight
McKnight is an author I've never read before and I'm always a little wary of those right off the bat. I opened the book with not much of an idea what I'd find in it and was blown away by what I did find. Immediately, I was struck by what a big deal it is that this book is very favorably forwarded by none other than N.T.Wright and Dallas Willard. Not only that, but the forwards themselves got me excited for this book!
We are in a church culture that often seems to equate Gospel with salvation. Preaching the "Gospel" to someone has become synonymous with stepping through a salvation plan to secure them their ticket to heaven and leaving it at that. Growth beyond that is sort of optional and/or is the responsibility of pastors and other church leaders. McKnight argues that Jesus Himself saw that there was much more to the Gospel than just getting people to play for "our team" so to speak. The author challenges his readers to think about the words, their meaning and their context and gain a firm grasp on what Jesus was really talking about.
This is not some light, fluffy, campfire kumbaya singing kind of Gospelly pep talk, mind you. McKnight is pulling out the big guns here and has clearly done his research. Whether you agree with all of his points or not, you have to give credit where credit is due. He cannot be accused of glossing over anything. There was some serious scholarly information in this book that I have found to be very useful in my church history class this term! This book is not going back on my shelf right now. This book is staying in the stack of book for that class.
You don't have to be a pastor or seminary student to appreciate the value of what McKnight has to say. Anyone can certainly pick up this book and glean valuable information about how they can truly preach the Gospel to those around them. It's not just about stepping through "Evangelism Explosion" with someone and checking off a box if they pray the prayer with you at the end. (Before you jump all over me, I'm not saying the EE isn't a good tool. I'm just saying you can't stop there.)
You will be challenged by this book. You will learn from this book. You will yell "AMEN BROTHER SCOT!" at one point and totally disagree with him in another. And that's just the kind of book I adore! This is a keeper.
Zondervan was kind enough to share a review copy of this book with me so I could review it on the old blog here. I think there's a regulation somewhere that says I have to tell you that. While I like Zondervan and the book, I was under no obligation to say anything nice about either today.