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Horton Interviews McKnight about The King Jesus Gospel

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Responding to Michael Horton's review of his new book, The King Jesus Gospel, Professor Scot McKnight offered further remarks. So we recorded a White Horse Inn interview with Scot. It's a good discussion for us to have and we're grateful to Scot for keeping the conversation going. The full interview will be available to our WHI partners and excerpts will be aired in a few months on the White Horse Inn.

[audio:http://www.whitehorseinn.org/mp3/mcknight.mp3|titles=WHI Interview with Scot McKnight|artists=White Horse Inn]

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  • Guest - ken campbell

    Excellent discussion!
    I would like to refer you to the book "The Crescent through the Eyes of the Cross", by Nabeel Jabbour(a beautiful book), and his remarkable account of presenting the story of Jesus for the first time to a village of modern traditional muslims, from Mark Ch 5. It is like stepping back into the book of Acts. See pages 161-169.
    However, it occurred to me that he would not have been heard if he had followed Scot McKnight's emphasis on telling the story of Israel as background, since "Israel" connotes a history of violence and fascism to Arabs, just the opposite of the connotation to American dispensational soterians. I wonder if the shift of emphasis in Paul is due to similar notions of Israel in the first century world? After all, Paul seems to have had to do a lot of explaining about the real story of Israel to various churches.

    Ken Campbell

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  • [...] Mike Horton and Scot McKnight have a good conversation about The King Jesus Gospel for the White Horse Inn. Audio here. [...]

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  • Ken has a GREAT question. Dr. Horton can you repond to this?

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  • Guest - Rebecca

    You know what I hear in this conversation? Echoes of John Piper and "God is the Gospel". It's absolutely a fair criticism of broad evangelicalism to say the focus has shifted to "what can Jesus do for me?", including justification as a mere get-out-of-hell-free card, sanctification as my ticket to a victorious life, etc.

    McKnight sure seems to be thinking in covenant terms I agree with, and I think- I *think*- I even agree with him that the big story of Scripture is first about Christ's installation as king over a redeemed people, on the basis of his redemption of that people through his obedience in death on the cross. From this interview, I can't quite tell how he thinks we become part of that redeemed people; is that the substance of the disagreement?

    I guess my confusion, from Dr. Horton's review and from this interview, is this: The WHI crew is always saying that the good news is not about us. Can Dr. Horton also be saying that the news is not good until the news is good *for* us? It sounds like Prof. McKnight is saying that the news is, "Jesus has accomplished a salvific work for God's people and is therefore installed as king over creation," and Dr. Horton is saying, "That's news, but it's not *good* news until we hear how we can be included in the people Jesus' work does save." It seems like Prof. McKnight's version is objectively good but subjectively indeterminate ("God wins" is good regardless of whether we benefit from it) but Dr. Horton wants the good news to be subjectively good ("God wins *and* the outcome benefits me").

    It sounds like splitting hairs, but my gut sense is that this might be a really important hair. What am I missing?

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  • Guest - Michael Horton

    Rebecca -

    I think you frame up the differences well here. More in the book than in the interview, Scot McKnight--in my reading, at least--tends to draw too stark (and arbitrary) a separation between the Story of Jesus (i.e., the Gospel) and the message of salvation. I share his concern to see the Story of Jesus as more than personal salvation--indeed, more than redemption from sin. I share his critique of a gospel presentation that is reduced to "fire insurance." Christ is the Messiah-King: the faithful Adam and True Israel. We have to start with creation, not with the fall and the promise of salvation, or we don't really understand sin and the gospel either. And then the gospel takes its coordinates also from the future consummation. Whatever blessings we enjoy now are due to the in-breaking of the age to come into this present evil age.

    Yet my concern with Scot's approach at various points in the book at least is to stop too short, suggesting that the Story of Jesus (the gospel) is about Jesus (Christology), not about salvation (soteriology). If it's wrong to emphasize the gifts (Christ's work) apart from the giver (Christ's person), the answer isn't simply to reverse the order of emphasis. Christ's person and work are inseparable aspects of the one gospel. Justification is not the only gift that we have in union with Christ, but it is the heart of the Good News. Without it, Christ's enthronement as King would be a terrible prospect, since we (especially as Gentiles, but Jews as well) would have no right to expect life rather than death, reconciliation rather than judgment, by his reign.

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  • Guest - kevinleroy

    Thank you for such a kind and courteous interview with Scot. I really appreciated how you, Dr. Horton, pushed back on Scot to make sure he was saying what you thought he was saying. I thought you were very gracious toward him and treated him fairly as a brother in Christ.

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  • Guest - Peter G

    Rev.14:6-7 --
    And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, "Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters." (Rev 14:7 NAS95)

    What was the angel's message? If the word 'gospel' MEANS 'good news,' in what sense was the angel's message good?

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  • Guest - Phil Helale

    Mr. Mcknight I believe said the the knowledge of Christ as King saves. I don't understand this statement. The knowledge of Christ as King as understand would function as law. So it can drive to Christ in the Gospel but itself cannot save. Mr. Horton, I would love you to comment on this.

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  • Guest - Rebecca

    Dr. Horton-

    Thank you for your reply; that clarifies things for me. Divorcing Christ's work from his person would certainly make for a different story, and bad news for us. I'll read the book with interest to see whether he holds together the anointed king of Israel with that king's delivering work- they sure seem like inseparable ideas in the Bible, but then I have a theological bias in that direction... perhaps he will handle those stories differently.

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  • Guest - Elowel

    I think Scot McKnight makes the right and proper distinction, and his definition of the gospel is the best I've seen so far.

    The Gospel saves, but it's not about salvation. The four gospels tell the Gospel. Jesus, Paul, and the Apostles preach the Gospel, the story of Israel fulfilled in the person of Jesus, His death, His resurrection, His victory. The gospel (as seen in 1 Cor. 15 and Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) is NOT PRIMARILY ABOUT JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE, but includes it.

    I also appreciate that McKnight acknowledges and respects covenant soterians like Horton, and those at Westminster, for preaching the whole of Scripture. He makes the important, proper, obvious distinction between them and the pragmatic soterians of decisionism.

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