Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Impressions: Embracing Grace by Scot McKnight
At a small group I was at one Sunday we were having a conversation about how we apply the gospel to our lives as Christians. We made the observation that for some Christians the gospel is something for non-believers, something that you don't really think about once you get saved. What I have found hard is that some people reduce the gospel to a few propositions about having your sins forgiven so that it can be difficult to apply it to every situation in life. Enter Scot McKnight. Embracing Grace is a book about the gospel. It tells us that the gospel is something that we proclaim but that we perform as well.
Here is how McKnight explains the work of the gospel:
"The gospel is the work of God to restore humans in union with God and communion with others, in the context of a community for the good of others and the world"
Eikons: Mcknight says that it is important where we begin when we are thinking about the gospel. McKnight begins with creation and the story of the Eikon (the greek word for "image"). Humans are made in the image of God which means they are God's special creation and are like Him in some way; we are made for relationships with God, others and the world.
Holistic: McKnight's view of sin and atonement are robust. This is because he has a holistic view of the two. Sin is not merely the breaking of a law (although it does include that) but culpable shalom-breaking which affects our relationship with God, others and the world. If we are dealing with a robust problem then we need a robust solution. McKnight emphasizes the importance of the incarnation, the life, death, resurrection and pentecost to the atonement (and therefore the gospel). He favors the recapitulation theory (i.e. Jesus became what we are so we can become what he is) since it can fairly incorporate all the other important theories of atonement (in his book A Community Called Atonment he calls this "identification for incorporation").
Community: God saves individuals but individualism is an enemy of the gospel. God accomplishes his redemptive purposes in the context of communities (i.e. Israel, the Church, and the Kingdom). McKnight's definition of the kingdom can not be divorced from community (and why would it? a kingdom always includes people.). God's kingdom is his society where his will is done. It includes people. God restores us to union with him and communion with others in the context of a community, the kingdom community.
Missional: God creates this community for the good of the world. This is the part that I actually struggled with the most. But when we understand Jesus' words in Matthew 5 everything falls into place. We are to be God's kingdom community that acts as salt and light in this world so that others will glorify God because of the good we do.
McKnight's book has helped me to appreciate the gospel more. With his framework we can actually preach the gospel from the Gospels.