I’ll do a few posts this week on what Scot had to say
Much of the content of the lectures will be the material for a new book The Earliest Christian Gospel – so we were treated to a special preview.
Scot’s big theme is how popular evangelicalism has a deeply embedded ‘salvation culture’ that actually marginalises the gospel.
Now this is a provocative thesis. Once you start messing with ‘the gospel’ people get nervous. Scot is arguing that the gospel in biblical terms needs to be distingushed from a traditional evangelical ‘plan of salvation’ which looks like this:
– You are separated from God due to sin
– God loves you, has a plan for your life and has sent his son to die for you
– repent, accept Jesus as Lord and saviour, and you will be forgiven and justified and go to heaven when you die.
While Scot isn’t suggesting that this is fundamentally mistaken he is proposing that it telescopes the story of Israel and the story of Jesus into an almost irrelevant part of the Christian message. This is actually what the good news is according to the preaching of the NT [I’ll come back to this in later posts].
But the traditional plan of salvation has little need for Israel [and the OT generally] and for Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God.
I agree with this – the kingdom of God is a very vague or unknown idea to most students when we start talking about it in class yet it is the central theme of Jesus’ life and teaching. As people who follow Jesus, this should strike us as more than a bit odd.
Scot argues that this narrowly focused ‘plan of salvation’ gospel then leads to a ‘method of persuasion’ in evangelism which tends to focus on making people feel a ‘crisis’ of guilt or sin, often with the use of hell and judgement.
In Scot’s words
‘We have collapsed the story of Israel and the story of Jesus under the weight of the plan of salvation and the method of persuasion’
So a question or two: