Posts Tagged Scot McKnight
This is a repost from a couple years ago. -JB
The Christmas story is all too familiar for most Christians today. We’ve seen two dozen pageants, have basically memorized Matthew and Luke’s accounts of wise men, shepherds, overbooked inns and barnyard manger scenes. The problem with familiarity, as Dallas Willard puts it, is that “Familiarity breeds unfamiliarity — unsuspected unfamiliarity, and then contempt” (The Divine Conspiracy, 11).
Thus, pastors often struggle preparing their annual Christmas message. But as my recent post argued (See “And There Were Shepherds”), the Christmas story is filled with shock and mind-boggling surprises. One has to work very hard to make this story ordinary and boring. The story of Christmas is the most extraordinary story ever told.
This Christmas I shared a brief Christmas message at our high school Christmas dance — yes, my Baptist friends, our youth group had a dance to celebrate the birth of our savior. This year my message centered around the image of “The Dance of the Trinity” and Christ’s relentless pursuit of more and more dancing partners to come back into a life of living in the harmonious rhythms of the Kingdom Dance.
My message outline went something like this: Read the rest of this entry »
From Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed:
Rodney Reeves’ new book, Spirituality according to Paul: Imitating the Apostle of Christ, is one of the most courageous sketches of Paul’s view of the Christian life I’ve seen. I think he takes Paul at his word and then turns Paul’s words on us so we can see ourselves in the mirror of Paul’s radical (ludicrous) vision.
Paul was a poor speaker. He worked with his hands to make a living. Bad things happened to him all the time. The churches he started were filled with problems. He was run out of nearly every town he visited. The Romans despised him. His own people abused him. Other missionaries mocked him (47).
And Paul counted himself blessed to be doing gospel work.
Wryly, Reeves observes: “This man sounds like he’s in denial.”
What do you do with Paul? Who is on your stage? Any fools?
2 Corinthians sketches themes in the Christian life that are outside our experience (or at least most of our experiences) and contrary to what we believe. Here’s Paul’s point: “In short God doesn’t do power and wisdom like the world. In fact the way God makes the world a better place looks completely pathetic and ineffective to the strong” (41).
I think Reeves is right. Dead right. Deadly right. Paul gloried in his weakness and in his foolishness and in his inability to speak.
We glory in our successes, in our brilliance and in our rhetorical capacity. Like the Corinthians, we think style exceeds content. We gather to hear the brilliant speak and won’t even budge our butts to hear some local testimony of God’s grace in a difficult time. We want our preachers to look good and to be handsome; we want our sermons entertaining and interesting and captivating and motivating.
Karl Barth is quoted: “The gospel is not a truth among other truths. Rather, it sets a question-mark against all truths” (44).
This is why Paul saw the essence of the gospel in his wounds, in his foolishness and in human weakness. We put the best and brightest on the stage. “The message is undeniable: only the healthy, wealthy and wise have anything to say. The sick, poor and foolish should keep their mouths shut” (51). He wonders if marriage weekends ought to hear from the divorced who have been sustained by grace.
Pastors, buy this book and meditate your way through it. You will rise up and call me blessed if you do.
Scot McKnight is sharing his own journey of wrestling with Calvinism at Jesus Creed. Here’s a snippet, and I recommend you read the rest of the forthcoming series.
I found two major weaknesses in Calvinism’s theology (and also a disorientation in its architecture): first, the emphasis of its architecture is not the emphasis of the Bible. Its focus on God’s Sovereignty, which very quickly becomes much less a doctrine of grace than a doctrine of control and theodicy etc, and its overemphasis on human depravity are not the emphases I found in the Bible. The overemphasis I see of these two in high Calvinism comes more from Augustine and later Calvinists than from the rhetoric of the biblical authors. I do not dispute the presence of these themes; I dispute their narratival centrality and they are where the gravity of emphasis is found in the Bible. Yes, I know we all have metanarratives that put things together, and Calvinism is one such metanarrative. It works for some; it simply didn’t work for me. Read the rest of this entry »
Scot McKnight recently delivered 4 watershed lectures for many of us misplaced Evangelicals who want to take back the big tent Evangelicalism of the Billy Graham and John Stott era from those trying to narrow down Evangelicalism into their much narrower theological categories. I’m speaking primarily of the so-called “young, restless Reformed”, the Gospel Coalition, John Piper and his massive following, Albert Mohler, Jr., Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, and many others giving shape to the movement Scot McKnight is now calling the Neo-Puritans.
I commend the following four lectures to these brothers and sisters especially, not asking them to agree with them, but hoping they will give a broader perspective on the movement we call Evangelicalism, and plunge them deeper into Scripture with a fresh openness to actually apply the Reformation principle of ‘sola Scriptura.’
I commend these lectures as well to those who may have concluded that the Neo-Puritans (Piper, Driscoll, Chandler, DeYoung, etc.) are the only thoughtful, biblically rigorous evangelical alternative to a shallow, superficial seeker brand of Evangelicalism on the one hand, and the trendy, postmodern, theologically muddled Emergent movement on the other. Scot McKnight walks this lonely road, a voice in the evangelical wilderness speaking out for many of us non-Calvinist Evangelicals. I hope these lectures are spread broadly, and awaken many to the beautifully rich heritage that is (or was?) Evangelicalism.
Please check out the Parchman Lectures by Scot McKnight here.
Scot McKnight hits the nail on the head today. One of the best reminders I’ve had in a long time.
Everywhere I go and nearly everyone I read has a theme, whether central or peripheral, and I think the theme is getting too much attention and it’s getting too much play and it’s setting us up for failure.
Here’s the theme: the Church is so messed up.
Instances: preaching is not that good today; theology is so shallow today; Christian morals are so loose today; parents are not that good today; we’ve got too much individualism today; kids don’t respond as they used to; the church is spending too much money today; Christians aren’t liked in culture ….
The suggestion: Let’s start all over again. This time we’ll get it right. Let’s get ourselves a group of really zealous followers of Jesus and let’s think about kingdom and forget the choir robes and denominations and pastors and hierarchy and church budgets. Finally, we’ll get it right. We’ll just follow Jesus and we’ll forget the church. We’ll do kingdom work and forget the church.
Go ahead. Join the crowd. In a few years you’ll come back to something you either face now, in a more rational manner, or later in a more chastened manner, that is if you’ve got any passion left. Here’s my theory:
I want to say I believe in an Augustinian ecclesiology. Read the rest of this entry »
“I find an increasing number of young Christians are willing to say “enough is enough” when it comes to militarism, to military budgets, and to embracing a peace orientation toward how Christians are to live in a world of international conflicts. Ronald Sider (Christ and Violence) and John Howard Yoder (The Politics of Jesus ) have been powerful witnesses to pushing more Christians to ask not what is best for our power but how did Jesus embody the way of God — he did so through a cross that led to resurrection, not through a sword that led to a throne.”
One of the most simple but important driving lessons we learned in kindergarten: stay between the lines! In driving you must keep yourself from veering to the left and the right. We must keep ourselves between the yellow center line and the white shoulder line. What do these two colored lines represent on the road of discipleship? Let’s explore two very significant lines we need to respect in our life with God. Remember, God’s word said it first:
“Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot (or accelerator!) from evil” (Proverbs 4:27).
If Jesus was a driving instructor, then the best question his ambitious student driver ever asked was the following: “Teacher, which is the greatest traffic law?” Jesus didn’t hesitate in his answer, which had two directions to it:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt 22:37-40 NIV).
Back in the driver seat of our car, we’ll notice that crossing either the yellow or white lines will run us into trouble. For the sake of this analogy, the yellow center line keeps us from harming others and the white shoulder line keeps us from harming ourselves. Jesus’ two commands do the same thing. God created us to live both in harmony with Himself and with others. (Scot McKnight calls these two commandments the Jesus Creed.)
When we love God with our entire being, and our entire life is oriented around God, then we experience life to the full and avoid self-destructive behaviors that would drive us across the white line and land us in any number of moral ditches. When we learn to love our neighbors as ourselves (which flows out of the commandment to love God) then we avoid all those head-on, relational collisions that come when we cross over the yellow line in our relationships with our neighbors.
The road of Christian discipleship demands that we keep following closely after (even tailgating!) Christ who showed us how to stay between the yellow and white lines, loving both God and others.
1. As you look at your life right now, which line do you tend to cross over more? Yellow or white?
2. Which kinds of “moral ditches” do you find yourself in most? What kinds of behavior prevents you from staying between the white and yellow lines?
What do you think of Dr. Scot McKnight’s perspective on the place of politics in the pulpit from Jesus Creed?
It is commonly asserted that we should keep politics out of the pulpit, but what most people mean by that is that we shouldn’t endorse a specific candidate — and who’s kidding whom on that one? Or that we shouldn’t endorse a party from the pulpit — and who’s kidding whom on that one?
But “politics” is precisely what the pulpit does, and here’s why:
1. The Bible, which is the Book of the pulpit, is a profoundly political book. The entire Old Testament is about a nation and its politics – how that nation is to live as a political body.
2. The New Testament is profoundly political — it is how the “political body” of Christ is to live in this world, and it is often at odds with the politics of Israel’s/Judah’s leaders and Rome’s leaders and Greece’s leaders.
3. The very gathering of the Body of Christ is called a “church” (ekklesia), which was a political term in the first century. Our gatherings are political gatherings because we form a kingdom body that is designed to witness to Christ and engage the world in a politics of love and grace and holiness and justice and peace.
4. We confess Jesus is Lord, and that means we are confessing no one else is Lord — Caesar or anyone else. Our confession is the most profoundly political action we can possibly do.
5. We strive to live an entirely different ethic, an ethic shaped by the Jesus Creed, and that is in essence a political move: we seek to be a different kind of living over against a world shaped by power and violence.
So, let me put it this way, when others tell us not to participate in politics, they are expressing a fear of what kind of politic the church could be; when they say we should construct a wall of separation, they are expressing a fear of what would happen if the church took its politic seriously.
The single-most powerful political action Christians “do” is baptism and Eucharist, for in those actions we enter into an alien politics.
We are largely the product of the many influences — both good and bad — that shape the people we have become. We’re like lumps of clay that over time have been shaped and molded by a hundred different influential hands — and experiences and words and ideas and moments and conversations and books and dreams and successes and failures — but mostly people.
I am no exception. My journey as a Christian believer, thinker, writer and pastor has been and continues to be most powerfully and positively impacted by…
Tim Keller for his sharp, sophisticated communication of Christian truth with a kind and gentle spirit.
Greg Boyd on keeping Jesus’ radical, Calvary-shaped Kingdom distinct from various Americanized versions of Christianity, and his teachings on free will and spiritual warfare.
N.T. Wright on understanding Jesus, Paul and the New Testament accurately in its historical context, and so much more.
John Stott for simply expositing the text and letting the New Testament speak afresh in Bible Speaks Today series.
Pastor David Johnson for his applicable, expository preaching that awakened new faith in me in college and continues to nurture me today.
Stanley Hauerwas on narrative theology and an Anabaptist Jesus-shaped ethics.
Erwin McManus for demonstrating and inspiring me to take risks and live life “on the divine edge of God’s activity.”
Lesslie Newbigin on missional engagement with the post-Christian culture.
Jurgen Moltmann on a theology of the cross.
Scot McKnight on balancing rigorous New Testament scholarship with a down-to-earth concern for laypeople and pastors.
Rob Bell on finding new and creative ways to teach ancient, timeless truths of Scripture.
Will Willimon on preaching the strange and peculiar God we serve and follow.
Michael Spencer (Internet Monk) on the search for a more simple Jesus-shaped spirituality.
John Howard Yoder for illuminating the sharp, subversive political edges of Jesus’ Kingdom teachings.
John Piper on “doxological exposition” of scripture, and for sharpening my theological views as I wrestle with our differences.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the cost of discipleship, radical obedience and the danger of cheap grace.
Eugene Peterson for being “a pastor’s pastor” and keeping me anchored in deep truths of scripture.
Dallas Willard for “The Divine Conspiracy” that nearly encapsulates the totality of Christian discipleship in one book.
C.S. Lewis for sharing his brilliant Christian mind and “baptized imagination” with the world.
Pastor David Brown for his revolutionary spirit and insistence that following Jesus means washing others’ feet in humble service.
Peter Herzog for our lifelong friendship rooted in Christian truth, love and transparency.
Dad & Mom for raising me in church and demonstrating that simple, child-like faith is enough (Mark 10:15).
My wife Keri who is my loving, supportive, faithful, prayerful partner and friend on this lifelong journey with God.
Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed is my first stop for a thoroughly Jesus-shaped perspective on all things. Here’s his thoughts on the death of a bin Laden.
There are a number of places to begin and ideas to consider.
But I have to begin with this. Jesus said, “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Osama bin Laden was a violent man, and he breathed and threatened violence, he funded violence, and he trained some to use violence. That he met a violent end is in accord with the life he chose. Violence was the game he played, and the game eventually caught up to him. The sword cuts in both directions.
Having said that, I can’t rejoice that he was shot to death or that he or anyone else is dead; I can’t rejoice because violence does not bring peace. It unleashes cycles of more violence. We may never know, but it sure looks to me that he could have been captured alive. Of course, bin Laden alive and captured could be one of the biggest nightmares our government could imagine, but that won’t change my view that if he could have been captured alive that would have been more Christian.
Which brings me back to the original point: militaries believe the path to peace is secured by the path of defense and power. Our military is not seeking to be biblical or Christian. It has a mission to protect our interests. Osama bin Laden was a violent man who maliciously murdered innocents and diabolically developed plans of violence against the USA and Western countries. It within the rights of such countries to defend themselves and pursue their senses of justice through power and the use of violence. The words of Jesus, though, come back around: those who use the sword will die by the sword. Swords bring “peace” only to the degree that the one with power can suppress revenge. The sword can bring retributive justice, but time will only permit more violence to simmer and eventually break forth.
The question for us is how should we as Christians respond? We can grieve over deaths, we can be relieved by the removal of a violent man who was making the world violent, we can stand with those who lost loved ones in bin Laden’s wake, from 9/11 onwards into the wars in the Middle East and elsewhere, we can pray for the world and for our leaders and for ourselves and for our enemies and for other countries …
… and we can live a different way. The way of the cross. The way of reconciliation. The way of forgiveness. The way of peace.