The King Jesus Gospel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011).
[My plan here is to take a series of posts to interact and respond to the book's content, rather than offering a more traditional review. I will be jumping over things and not taking the time to cover all of of the points.]
We come to the tenth and final chapter of McK's book on the heart of the gospel message and narrative. This will be the final formal discussion of the book, as we have surveyed and interacted with its contents over the last few weeks. Undoubtedly, this book will be shaping my thoughts from this point on . . . it has been a good challenge to navigate, and should be commended to all of the church's workers.
Chapter Ten brings together the themes of the book and moves to an application of "Creating a Gospel Culture," which in itself should be seen as bigger than personal commitment. He opens this chapter with the assertion, ". . . the gospel is Jesus' and the apostles' interpretation of the story of life" (148). If gospel and culture are to interact, then this is a discussion of their coming together.
One of the most fascinating features of the entire book is embedded in this final chapter, where McK tells the gospel story (148-153). After the extended discussion on the meaning, content and purpose of gospel, here we have a sketch of the gospel story that begins with . . . the beginning (Creation!). But, if the story of Jesus is discovered in the context of the story of Israel, then the story ought to look something like this. (So much for the notion of a New Testament + Psalms and Proverbs type of Christianity.)
Following this, McK asserts that the gospel will emerge from the culture which surrounds that story, specifically in five ways.
"First, we have to become People of the Story" (153). Indeed, this has been one of the main enterprises of this study, to rediscover gospel and renew our efforts on living it out.
"Second, we need to immerse ourselves even more into the Story of Jesus" (153). Simply stated, the church simply has lost its ability (or willingness . . . or both) to tell the story of Jesus in its entirety. We like bits and pieces along the way, overemphasizing this and forgetting about that . . . all the while desperately needing to tell the story in all its fullness. (A great side note, and some development, is left for us here as well, ". . . the church calendar is a gospeling event too" (154).)
"Third, we need to see how the apostles' writings take the Story of Israel and the Story of Jesus into the next generation and into a different culture, and how this generation led all the way to our generation" (155). That is to say, gospel is also the story of the church, which is bigger than ourselves and the history which we typically remember. Further, gospel is something that began with Israel, found its climax in the story of Jesus, but is now handed over to the work of God's people. I believe that this point cuts those two ways. One of the challenges to applying gospel to our world is found in this statement regarding the New Testament documents: "A proper reading of these books means we see them as continuations and fresh applications of the Story of Jesus in new contexts" (156).
"Fourth, we need to counter the stories that bracket our story and that reframe our story" (157). In a world full of various worldviews and perspectives, it is important to tell the story of the gospel as the world's one true story. McK offers two ways to facilitate this: emphasizing baptism and emphasizing Eucharist as the body of Christ (cf. 158).
"Finally, we need to embrace this story so that we are saved and can be transformed by the gospel story" (158). McK's heart in this project is for the church. His desire is that this book would become a part of the life of the church as together we embrace the heart of the gospel and become a part of the transformative work of God's kingdom. (Perhaps he wouldn't say it that way, but all of the ideas are there.) His statement, "A gospel culture can only be created if we are thoroughly converted ourselves" (159), says volumes. If we are to do this - and here is a big statement that we should always remember - we will embrace the church, warts and all, as the people of God" (159). Absolutely.
There must be movement if the gospel is to be effective. "As our God is a sending God, so we are a sent people" (160). If Jesus is the rightful and reigning king over creation, with God's new kingdom coming in to our present reality, then we are summoned to live as though we believe it to be true. The renewal of our understanding of what God has done, who we are, and what we are to do must now bring the church into a new day of life and mission. The power of the gospel has not diminished, if we are willing to proclaim it and live with all we've got.
This is Jesus. Our King.
This is Gospel.