I’m doing a few posts this week on what Scot had to say. And I should say that these are just based on my notes.
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.
We left the last post saying the gospel is all about telling the story of Jesus.
Scot went back to the Nicene Creed her and argued persuasively that it actually captures the NT view of gospel in how it tells the story of Jesus ‘according to the Scriptures’.
But how then did the overwhelmingly pervasive evangelical ‘plan of salvation’ come to dominate our understanding of the gospel?
Scot will raise a few hackles by suggesting that it’s down to what happened at the Reformation. While is was a movement greatly used by God and a source of spiritual blessing and a necessary correction to medieval Catholicism, it also reconfigured the gospel.
Scot means by this that statements like the Augsberg Confession, the Heidleberg Catechism and Calvin’s Genevan Confession took ‘gospel’ documents like the Nicene Creed and systematised them into propositional ‘plan of salvation’ type theology.
[This wasn’t talked about on the day but it should be said that it had already been pretty massively reconfigured by scholastic medieval Catholicism].
This sin / salvation culture then became the dominant shaping force of European Protestantism and subsequently evangelicalism.
Again, Scot was not rejecting the Reformers or justification by faith alone etc – he was suggesting that this helps to explain the narrow, judicial, boundary focused and ‘sin-solving’ form of the gospel that has so dominated modern evangelicalism.
Sure it is not all like this. Sure God’s Spirit has never left the Church. Sure no generation will have it all right. Sure it is easy to caricature. But there are few evangelical authors, let alone non-evangelical ones, who would not recognise and agree that there is truth to this depiction of western evangelicalism.
A question is then, will the ‘bigger’ good news story of Jesus gospel help? How?
– It is a positive proclamation about the lordship of Jesus
– It is an invitation to join the story and become a follower of Jesus
– It makes sense of the whole story of the Bible
– It connects faith in Jesus with discipleship and kingdom life