'Gospels of sin management' presume a Christ with no serious work other than redeeming humankind ... [and] they foster 'vampire Christians,' who only want a little blood for their sins but nothing more to do with Jesus until heaven.
-Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy
DOCTOR VANHELSING'S JOURNAL
31 October. On the dark side of twilight, I at last have reached Count Dracula's castle. The Count greeted me eagerly if not warmly, then ushered me into his dining room, where "Our encounter will be most appropriate," whatever that means. I am grateful for the food offered me, but the Count eats naught. From across the table he stares, intently, or almost hungry. Those eyes... I have a creeping feeling this interview was a mistake, but Dracula is the most influential Christian in this region, and I must challenge him with the questions that have seized my psyche over the last three months!
COUNT: What brings you to my home, Doctor...?
ZBLOG: VanHelsing. My name is Zonder VanHelsing. I've come to interview you about the King you serve.
COUNT: I serve no King. I am the sovereign of Transylvania, and you do well to remember that, my good Doctor.
ZBLOG: Forgive me, I just mean, it is said you've been a Christian for some time now?
COUNT: Oh. Yes, in my youth I made a decision for Christ.
ZBLOG: What did you decide?
COUNT: What do you mean? I decided to believe the gospel.
ZBLOG: Please tell me, what is "the gospel"?
COUNT: [He furrows his brow, as if trying to decide whether I'm playing a joke. There are tense moments, but at last he continues.] Everyone knows what the gospel is, but very well, I'll play your game.
We're sinners. If we believe in Jesus, his blood saves us from hell. Jesus died on my behalf so that I do not have to. And that's that.
ZBLOG: And how does your decision to accept Christ connect to discipleship?
COUNT: What do you mean?
ZBLOG: Well, I've recently read in Dr. Scot McKnight's new book The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited that as many as 75 percent of Americans have made a decision to accept Christ, but only about 25 percent Americans go to church regularly.
McKnight also claims this: "Most of evangelism today is obsessed with getting someone to make a decision; the apostles, however, were obsessed with making disciples." So, tell me about your transition from the Decided to the Discipled.
COUNT: Discipled, what nonsense. I became a disciple when I decided to believe in the power of Jesus' blood! The blood is the life! You cannot let the power of the blood and salvation by faith become eclipsed by discipleship. No, you don't need to do anything if you know and believe the central idea of "justification by faith."
ZBLOG: It's interesting you think so, since justification by faith isn't mentioned in the Gospels. And I happen to believe that if we're not growing in our faith, we're, er... undead.
COUNT: You try my patience, Doctor! Why don't you tell me what you think the gospel is!
ZBLOG: I mean no disrespect, Count. But Dr. McKnight presents some very convincing reasons for us to consider 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 as the core apostolic gospel.
COUNT: [He turns to the 1 Corinthians passage in my Bible and reads aloud.] "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve."
You call that the gospel? No no no, too much "according to the Scriptures." What could the Old Testament possibly have to do with the gospel? I'll take John 3:16 over McKnight's version of the gospel any day. [The Count gets up from his seat and begins walking to my side of the table.]
ZBLOG: Well, it's not "McKnight's version" of the gospel. McKnight claims the 1 Corinthians 15 passage is what all the Apostles passed on as the gospel.
And it's funny you should ask what the Old Testament has to do with the gospel. McKnight makes an intriguing case that the story of Jesus is only properly understood when it's told within the larger story of Israel.
COUNT: Hmmm. [Is the Count staring at my neck? It looks like he's staring at my neck!] Looks delicious. I mean, the book! Where can I read some more of Dr. McKnight's delicious book?
ZBLOG: If you're interested, read this excerpt of The King Jesus Gospel...
[I threw the book at the Count and ran for my life. Once I made it back to the village church, I knew I was safe. At least for a while...]
Feel like your knowledge of the gospel is more "undead" than alive?
If you agreed more with the Count than with Dr. VanHelsing, you will be intrigued, stretched, challenged, and encouraged by Scot McKnight's new book.
Don't settle for undead. The King Jesus Gospel is about becoming more deeply alive in Christ.
Learn more about The King Jesus Gospel
(-Adam Forrest, Zondervan. This post does not represent the views of Zondervan or any of its representatives. The writer's opinions are his own, and are shared for entertainment and information purposes only. To receive new blogposts in your reader or email inbox, subscribe to Zondervan Blog.)