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Archive for Scot McKnight

Feb
04

Preaching Difficult Topics

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I have a Pastor friend that claims that once a year he likes to preach a sermon or a short series of sermons that is way over the heads of his congregation. His purpose is not to impress them with his theological knowledge or to show off his education. It’s not intended to be condescending. His purpose is to simply cause his congregation to spiritually strain at the content.

Now that sounds somewhat counter productive, given that modern preaching tends to be results oriented. But when I think of it, its really not a bad idea at all. I think congregations need to be challenged, or at least to have their safe assumptions challenged. I think its healthy every now and then to take our common assumptions and create questions that challenge the status quo. Especially if they lead us to deeper places in our faith journey.

This year I’m doing that with a new series titled “What is the Gospel?” My purpose is to challenge our basic assumptions about what the gospel is, and in so doing, hope to create positive conversations about a familiar yet often misrepresented subject. The idea came to me last year as I read Scot McKnight’s book The King Jesus Gospel. I wrote a REVIEW on McKnight’s book but haven’t been able to put it away. I’m using his book to frame my series over five weekends. I hope you’ll check it out.

Categories : Books, Gospel, Scot McKnight
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Nov
07

Politics and Our Eschatology

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I read a very limited number of blogs on a daily basis, one of which is Scot McKnight’s blog on Patheos.com titled Jesus Creed. A New Testament professor by trade, McKnight often offers helpful cultural insights as they intersect with faith and theology. This morning’s post, titled Politics and Our Eschatology serves as an outstanding Christian reflection on yesterday’s election. I hope you’ll find it compelling if not helpful.

Categories : Politics, Scot McKnight
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Jan
17

The Value of Deborah

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One of the blogs I follow on a daily basis is Scot McKnight’s page at patheos.com titled Jesus Creed. Today McKnight has offered an excellent post on Deborah and the value she brings to the ongoing conversation regarding women in leadership and women in ministry. You can find the post here.

Oct
31

Book Review: The King Jesus Gospel

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Depending upon the poll results you read, as many as 83% of Americans profess to be Christian in their personal faith. That simple statistic is troubling because I just don’t see that statistic reflected in our churches or in our culture.

Sometime ago, I became concerned that evangelical Christians were focused on getting decisions for Christ and making converts to Christianity, but not fulfilling the very core of the great commission: making disciples of Jesus Christ. Evangelism felt somewhat like “bait and switch.” There was a genuine desire to not add anything to the simple message of God’s grace and His provision of eternal life. But then came the ensuing frustration that new converts were not always “converted,” often leaving the church through the back door as gingerly as they came in the front door. There was and continues to be plenty of intellectual assent but little evidence of true transformation.

Scot McKnight has taken broad strides in addressing this issue. In his new book, The King Jesus Gospel, McKnight undertakes this topic with surgical precision. McKnight argues that what we are experiencing in western culture is not so much the gospel of Jesus unleashed as it is the plan of salvation explained and acknowledged. In other words, the gospel of the Jesus has become reduced to “the plan of salvation,” the purpose of which is to solicit commitments to Christ.

To find resolution to this dissonant, McKnight suggests that the time has come for the church to return to the full gospel of Jesus, beginning with the story of Israel. Christ is the fulfillment and resolution to the story of Israel, and through his death, burial, and resurrection is enthroned as Lord of all. Those who surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord are invited into the larger story of the gospel, sharing and pursuing the common goals of the Kingdom of God. In God’s design, recipients of the gospel are at once participants in the gospel. Those who respond to the gospel do not merely make decisions for Christ. Responders make commitments to a life of discipleship, taking on the character of Christ and emulating his behaviors as enabled by the Spirit of God.

Christianity therefore is not an ego-centric choice where matters of faith are individualistic and self fulfilling (e.g. “When He was on the cross I was on His mind…”). Rather, Christianity is about becoming part of a broader community where life is shared with those who take on something far bigger than oneself.

McKnight’s book points to the obvious problem then defines and defends a more holistic means of understanding the gospel. He concludes the book with some clear thoughts on how churches can develop a culture that is gospel based and how believers can undertake evangelism with this new understanding of the gospel.

As a whole, McKnight’s book has identified a critical issue in the American church. He deals with it honestly and with theological integrity. The King Jesus Gospel is compelling and convincing. McKnight is one of the top New Testament scholars in America today, and because of his successful academic background I wish he would have bent more toward his fellow academicians and professional clergy. (I believe he could have written 100 pages on how the Book of Hebrews fits the motif.) But instead he wrote to a general audience, benefiting them with his insights as well as the addition of some practical applications for the local church.

Therefore, I highly recommend The King Jesus Gospel to pastors and members alike. Some books are to be commended because they are good, and others are commended because they are important. Good books encourage and inspire readers, while important books become catalysts for change. The King Jesus Gospel is definitely the latter, and my prayer is that it will begin a conversation that will change our lives, our churches, and our culture.

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Feb
24

One.Life

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I picked up Scot McKnight’s latest book, One.Life, for a couple of reasons. For one, I like him. I first became familiar with his academic side, collecting each volume of the IVP Theological Dictionary series that bears his name as an editor. I own several of his commentaries, and as a pastor have benefited from his sensible observations on the biblical text. It was only then that I learned he had authored several popular books such as The Jesus Creed and The Blue Parakeet. And then there are my daily visitations to his high traffic blog site, Jesus Creed. Over the past year or so I’ve turned to McKnight through several pathways to find compelling theological conversations. Our world is losing some heavyweight New Testament scholars (Bruce, Stott, Morris, et al) who have helped bridge the gap between the ancient text and the modern world. McKnight seems equipped to step into that kind of role, but I digress.

The second reason I picked up One.Life is because I was looking for an answer to a big question. I think the big question for the established churches in America today is “How do we go about the process of producing followers of Jesus Christ?” For decades churches have relied upon programs to produce such creatures. When I began ministry 28 years ago, there was a uniform pattern for the practice of making disciples. People would convert to Christ, then make commitments to attend worship and Sunday School with faithful regularity. Those who were able to develop these practices were encouraged to attend Sunday evening church services and Wednesday night prayer meeting. Special classes were offered weekly that we called “Discipleship Training.” We had outreach night to train them to share their faith with the lost. As people “matured,” we pulled them from the bleachers onto the playing field and encouraged them to pursue discipleship through singing in the choir, serving as an usher, teaching Sunday School to adults, youth, or children, and serving on a committee. Those who achieved mastery at these levels were elevated to the summit: the Deacon ministry.

I don’t mean to sound pious, but after a year or so of reflection on this process I’ve come to the conclusion that we weren’t really producing followers of Christ as much as we were producing “churchmen” who would keep the church running and maintain its programs. People were busy to the point of burnout, but what was strangely absent was life change. Disciple making was more about sustaining the organization and its programs than it was creating avenues for transformation.

To say that the established church of the 21st century is in trouble is perhaps merely stating the obvious. What worked in the last half of the last century isn’t working now, and the lives of our sheep bear this out. You can find any number of surveys today that will bear out one tragic fact: the lives of American Christians are, for all intents and purposes, no different than the lives of their un-churched counterparts. We are as prone to addition, depression, obesity, divorce, crime, dysfuncton, and debt as anyone else. We are just as materialistic and given to pursuit of the American dream as our neighbors who sleep in on Sundays. And, those who do not attend a local church are just as committed to volunteer activities to charitable organizations as those who invest their time in their charitable organization. Therefore, based on those observations I think that I (we) need to discover and recover the ancient practice of how to develop real disciples of Jesus Christ.

That’s why I one-clicked One.Life.

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Jun
09

Who Tithes These Days?

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Interesting research from the Jesus Creed blog by Scot McKnight. Check out his post titled
Who Tithes These Days?

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