Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Sweep of the Story

Well Scot McKnight, who I come to admire more the more I read, seems to be getting it right these days.  I haven't read his latest book, King Jesus Gospel, but it's a good bet that I will (aside: a book without airbrushed faces, waves crashing on a beach, or someone with their hands raised on the cover = probably a bit more intelligent than the average reader is going to bother with. Hopefully not, though)  The gist of this recent post is the subject of the book:
Now I want to press this harder: the fundamental orientation of the soterian gospel is about the benefits “I” get if I respond. The fundamental orientation of the Story gospel is not about “my” benefits but about Jesus. Embracing the Story gospel brings benefits, to be sure, but we embrace this Story because we embrace Jesus, not because we get something. The entire soterian approach is shaped by benefits.
If the fundamental proclamation is "personal" salvation-- of any kind (sorry, Calvinism vs. Arminianism has never been the issue here)-- than the life that proceeds from that starting point will be notably and sub-Biblically "personal" in its orientation.  Can you say me-centered? When the Gospel is about Jesus, for Jesus, people will only be found looking at their "saved-ness" when the Story happens to take us there, and even when that does happen, there is no chance that it will leave us there, because it's got a Jesus-saturated conclusion that it's driving towards (listen up, John MacArthur).

What does this mean for the practice of the church? I think, and I'm just being arbitrary here, there could be a lot of things to say about this, but I think it means that Christians will have to (re-)discover an interest in history.  In the unfolding story that includes, for the most part, other people's lives that aren't really dependent on our choices at all, and how they as a whole relate to God in Jesus Christ.  And the slack-jawed wonder that provokes. The Gospel, if it belongs to God (as I think McKnight and others are suggesting) is something that we are not to see as locating itself "in" our lives with us at its center.  IOW, for thousands of years the redemptive, salvation sweep of the Trinity's mission in the world has been surging forward under its own power.  That is, the power of God.  Any time you present people with personal choices to "believe" it, or "make it real for your life," or "get from your head into your heart," you may be effectively suggesting that Moses' deliverance from Egypt for instance, or better yet- Jesus' Incarnation, is dependent on your choice to believe God, or to be good, or to order your spiritual practices correctly, or to walk in the Spirit, or whatever. The absurdity of this thinking is humbling, but it's something a lot of people are going to have to come to terms with.

Stick that in your "apply the Bible to your life" pipe and smoke it!


Lore Ferguson said...

Love this. What a great reminder. As always, spot on.

ruzzel01 said...

An in depth understanding of the story. It may be heard a lot but this one explains it all.
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