I have resonated with the content of this book and McKnight’s call to recreate a gospel culture. And so I am providing a Cliff Notes version of the book… some Quotes of Note. May it give you an idea of the book, and possibly propel you to read the book yourself.
FOREWORD BY N.T. WRIGHT
The Christian faith is kaleidoscopic, and most of us are color-blind. (11)
… “the gospel” is the story of Jesus of Nazareth told as the climax of the long story of Israel, which in turn is the story of how the one true God is rescuing the world. (12)
… we all urgently need to allow this deeply biblical vision of “the gospel” to challenge the less-than-completely-biblical visions we have cherished for too long, around which we have built a good deal of church life and practice. (13)
FOREWORD BY DALLAS WILLARD
At the root of the many problems that trouble the “church visible” today, there is one simple source: the message that is preached. (15)
At the most conservative of estimates, we lose at least 50 percent of those who make decisions. (20)
CHAPTER 1: THE BIG QUESTION
I believe the gospel has been hijacked by what we believe about “personal salvation,” and the gospel itself has been reshaped to facilitate making “decisions.” (26)
Our biggest problem is that we have an entire culture shaped by a misunderstanding of the gospel. That so-called gospel is deconstructing the church. (27)
CHAPTER 2: GOSPEL CULTURE OR SALVATION CULTURE?
(Pastor Eric’s claims on gospel – hint: they’re not good!)
- The gospel is not a claim to imitate Jesus.
- It is not a public announcement that Jesus is Lord and King. (32)
A salvation culture does not require The Members or The Decided to become The Discipled for salvation… the gospel of Jesus and that of the apostles, both of which created a gospel culture and not simply a salvation culture, was a gospel that carried within it the power, the capacity, and the requirement to summon people who wanted to be “in” to be The Discipled. (33)
CHAPTER 3: FROM STORY TO SALVATION
To set the stage for defining the gospel we need to distinguish four big categories, and the themes of this book flow from these four categories:
- The Story of Israel/the Bible,
- The Story of Jesus,
- The Plan of Salvation,
- The Method of Persuasion.
… (they are) connected to one another and ought to build on top of one another. (34)
THE STORY OF ISRAEL
What Adam was to do in the Garden — that is, to govern this world redemptively on God’s behalf — is the mission God gives to Israel. Like Adam, Israel failed, and so did its kings. (35)
…the idea of King and a kingdom are connected to the original creation. …Finally, the Story has an aim: the consummation, when God will set it all straight as God establishes his kingdom on earth. (36)
PLAN OF SALVATION
… the more we submerge “salvation” into the larger idea “gospel,” the more robust will become our understanding of salvation. (39)
CHAPTER 4: THE APOSTOLIC GOSPEL OF PAUL
What this means is that the gospel is a whole-life-of-Jesus story, not just a reduction of the life to Good Friday. In my judgment, soterians have a Good-Friday-only gospel. (54-55)
N.T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said:
I am perfectly comfortable with what people normally mean when they say “the gospel.” I just don’t think it is what Paul means. (58)
When the plan (of salvation) gets separated from the story, the plan almost always becomes abstract, propositional, logical, rational, and philosophical and, most importantly, de-storified and unbiblical. (62)
We are tempted to turn the story of what God is doing in this world through Israel and Jesus Christ into a story about me and my own personal salvation. In other words, the plan has a way of cutting the story from a story about God and God’s Messiah and God’s people into a story about God and one person — me — and in this the story shifts from Christ and community to individualism. (62)
CHAPTER 5: HOW DID SALVATION TAKE OVER THE GOSPEL?
… four simple (and thin) points: God loves you, you are messed up, Jesus died for you, accept him and (no matter what you do) you can go to heaven. My contention is not that the Reformation created that sort of gospel, but that the Reformation’s reshaping of the gospel story has made it a pale shadow of what it ought to be. (73)
Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy:
Your system is perfectly designed to yield the result you are getting. (75)
Willard again: ‘Gospels of Sin Management’ presume a Christ with no serious work other than redeeming humankind… [and] they foster ‘vampire Christians’ who only want a little blood for their sins but nothing more to do with Jesus until heaven. (76)
CHAPTER 6: THE GOSPEL IN THE GOSPELS?
John Dickson, The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission:
The core content of the gospel therefore goes something like this:
- Jesus’ royal birth secured his claim to the eternal throne promised to King David.
- Jesus’ miracles pointed to the presence of God’s kingdom in the person of the Messiah.
- Jesus’ teaching sounded the invitation of the kingdom and laid down its demands.
- Jesus’ sacrificial death atoned for the sins of those who would otherwise be condemned at the consummation of the kingdom.
- Jesus’ resurrection establishes him as the Son whom God has appointed Judge of the world and Lord of the coming kingdom. (81)
CHAPTER 7: JESUS AND THE GOSPEL
From the promises to Abraham of a land and a people and kings,
to God’s promise to David for an eternal king and kingdom,
right on through the prophetic visions of shalom and justice and heartfelt Torah observance,
all of this and more, Jesus balled up into the word kingdom and said,
“Get ready, it’s almost here. In fact, in some ways it is already here.” (96)
CHAPTER 8: THE GOSPEL OF PETER
(The gospel) is the Story of Israel that comes to completion in the saving Story of Jesus, who is Messiah of Israel, Lord over all, and the Davidic Savior… only by telling this apostolic gospel can we rebuild a gospel culture. This gospel culture does not displace salvation but puts salvation in the context of a gospel story that has a beginning (in creation and covenant with Israel), a middle (David), and a resolution (Jesus and final redemption). (131)
CHAPTER 9: GOSPELING TODAY
Anyone who can preach the gospel and not make Jesus’ exalted lordship the focal point simply isn’t preaching the apostolic gospel. (134)
When we reduce the gospel to only personal salvation, as soterians are tempted to do, we tear the fabric out of the Story of the Bible and we cease even needing the Bible. I don’t know of any other way to put it. (142)
CHAPTER 10: CREATING A GOSPEL CULTURE
… the gospel is Jesus’ and the apostles’ interpretation of the story of life. The gospel is the secret to life, and the gospel is the way to the truth and the life. (148)
… we have to become People of the Story… we need to immerse ourselves even more into the Story of Jesus… we need to counter the stories that bracket our story and that reframe our story… Finally, we need to embrace this story so that we are saved and can be transformed by the gospel story. (153, 157)