June 12, 2007

Salvation is More...Part 2

The other day I posted a quote from Donald Miller. The question I posed focuses on the fullness of the Gospel. Can the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Salvation) be reduced to four simple steps?

Jesus said, "Come, follow me." He didn't ask his disciples to sign a statement of beliefs or say a Sinner's prayer. In fact, some of the people Jesus forgave didn't even ask Him for forgiveness. I don't believe the Gospel can be boiled down into four quick components.

Scot McKnight recently posted an article on the Out of Ur blog.

He believes that a Four Spiritual Law approach creates several problems:
1. No one in the New Testament really preaches this gospel.
2. This gospel is about one thing: humans gaining access to God’s presence.
3. This gospel creates and individualist Christian life.
4. This gospel sets the tone for the entire evangelical movement.
5. This gospel leads to spiritual formation being entirely about “me and God.”
6. The evangelical gospel has created a need for evangelical monasteries.
7. The evangelical gospels turns the local church into a volunteer society that is unnecessary.
8. The evangelical gospel is rooted in Theism or Deism, but not the Trinity.

Instead, McKnight wants us to seek out a Gospel presentation that does the following:
1. A robust gospel cannot be “tractified.”
2. God made you as an eikon (Greek for “image”) to relate in love to God, to self, to others, and to the world.
3. The “fall” cracked the eikon in all for directions.
4. Bible readers cannot skip from Genesis 3 to Romans 3.
5. Genesis 4-11 reveals the “problem” of sin: the climax is a society of eikons trying to build their way to God.
6. Genesis 12 begins to restore the eikon by a covenantal commitment and forming the family of faith. The rest of the bible is about this elected family of faith.
7. The “problem” is finally resolved in “four atoning moments”: the life of Jesus, the death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
8. The “locus” of resolution is the family of faith: three big words in the bible that describe this family of faith are Israel, the Kingdom, and the Church.

What do you think? Is Scot's analysis correct? Can his ideas for a "presentation" of the Gospel be accomplished?


  1. Scot's analysis may have SOME credible points in that we tend to believe salvation is a pre-sold plan of action when it is a heart issue but to say that the evangelical gospel isn't biblical is to negate the whole idea of repentance preached by Peter is Acts 2:38 and later in Acts 3:19 when he was preaching in Solomon's porch. Without a genuine repentance and forgiveness of sins, I doubt one can truly be saved.


  2. Scott,

    Thanks for commenting.

    Do you think Scot is excluding repentance and forgiveness? Or, is he saying that there is more to salvation than just forgiveness and getting into heaven?

    I don't think Peter ever gave a four point presentation, but I certainly believe he called people to repent.

    I think he is also trying to restore the role of the Church and the church community to its rightful place in the salvation experience.

    I always wondered why the Bible didn't show someone presenting the Gospel to people the way my pastors and professors always said it had to be done. Doesn't it bother you that the "Gospel Presentation" seems more like a sales pitch than a call to experience God's forgiveness and transformation?

    How do you present the Gospel in such a way that your church knows it is more than just getting into heaven?

  3. Eric,

    Good thoughtful questions. That is why I said he had SOME credible points. I'm not saying he is excluding repentance and forgiveness but perhaps it is minimized to an extent that it is not front and center to the discussion. I don't know if that makes sense since I'm trying to be brief here but I think there's a middle ground that we have to reach. To exclude the evangelical gospel as he has is to do away with something that had some merit to it. Notice I said in my earlier post that I agreed that salvation is much more than a pre-sold plan of action but at some point, the unrepentant sinner has to come to grips with his fallen condition. Paul wrote about this extensively in the book of Romans.

    I believe forgiveness can be experienced in the cover of grace of a church that welcomes all. Many times "belonging before believing" is the normal path that people follow. I tell our folks that all the time.

    Hope this clears up some of your questions!


  4. Scott,

    Don't feel a need to be brief. Brevity sometimes doesn't allow us to state our position. Feel free to discuss, that is what this sort of thing is for.

    How do you think Scott missed the middle ground?

    I don't think he is rejecting the evangelical doctrine of repentance and forgiveness. I think he is saying that the "Four Step" part is what is not biblical. The Gospel isn't a four step anything. It is also not merely a personal relationship with God and getting in to heaven. I think he is trying to broaden it.

    What do you think?