We continue talking today about Scot McKnight’s book The King Jesus Gospel. (See the whole series here.) After 7 posts, we’re still only in chapter 3, but hey, slow digestion is healthy.
In this post we’ll discuss the 4 big category of the gospel as outlined by our author. He wants to talk a bit about the method of persuasion and briefly how it pertains to the whole. Keep in mind that these are acting as introductory chapters to the concept, so we won’t discuss every question here. As the book unfolds, more detail is discussed.
The Method of Persuasion
The Method of Persuasion is a discussion about how to “package” the Plan of Salvation in order to encourage people to respond.
McKnight contends that for most of us, we start with talking about God’s grace, but then move quickly to talk about judgment, hell, and the wrath of God. We use this to grab the hearer’s attention, and add a certain gravity. The author wants us to be clear that our method of persuasion should not be confused with the gospel itself. There really is an appropriate discussion to have about methodology. Methodology can be fluid and flexible, but the message needs to be consistent. The methods of preaching shift based on the needs of the audience. McKnight identifies 4 types of gospel message used throughout Church history. There are likely several more.
- The message of King Jesus from the gospels.
- The early Church was concerned with idolatry and identifying itself as distinct from Judaism. The message then was against idolatry, distancing from Judaism, and the gloriousness of Christ found in the early church.
- The Reformation created new emphases, and nothing is
more reformational in evangelistic focus than Thomas Cranmer’s famous A sermon on the salvation of mankind, by only Christ our Saviour, from sin and death everlasting.
- In the teaching of John Wesley you find his clear teaching on the fullness of salvation and the necessity of faith in order to be justified and sanctified.
Each of these Methods of Persuasion is shaped by the needs of its day, and is born out of the Plan of Salvation, but McKnight argues that neither of these should be confused with the Gospel itself. These methods represent different emphases and implications of the Gospel, and were necessary developments to answer the questions of their day, but they are not the Gospel
In this chapter, McKnight has discussed his four big categories: the Story of Israel, the Story of Jesus, the Plan of Salvation, and the Method of Persuasion. The point he will make in the book is that word gospel message is found in only one of these categories: the Story of Jesus. The plan of salvation is born out of a proper understanding of Jesus (mostly through the writing of Paul), and the method of persuasion is something each generation develops while interacting with our culture and building upon the first three categories.
For McKnight, the point is that our gospel message needs to be about the story of Jesus and him crucified.