This year the Christian Vision Project is asking our simplest but most important question yet: Is our gospel too small? Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament at North Park University, certainly can't be accused of thinking small in his biblical and theological studies. To the contrary, in books like The Jesus Creed and A Community Called Atonement, he has demonstrated a knack for picking big topics and approaching them in surprising and enlightening ways. McKnight's weblog, JesusCreed.org, is an oasis of careful thought and Christian intelligence, finely attuned to contemporary theological debates yet deeply rooted in the study of Scripture and the Christian tradition. These qualities are also evident in his response to our big, small question.
Our problems are not small. The most cursory glance at the newspaper will remind us of global crises like AIDS, local catastrophes of senseless violence, family failures, ecological threats, and church skirmishes. These problems resist easy solutions. They are robustpowerful, pervasive, and systemic.
Do we have a gospel big enough for these problems? Do we have the confidence to declare that these robust problems, all of which begin with sin against God and then creep into the world like cancer, have been conquered by a robust gospel? When I read the Gospels, I see a Lion of Judah who roared with a kingdom gospel that challenged both Israel's and Rome's mighty men, gathered up the sick and dying and made them whole, and united the purity-obsessed "clean" and the shame-laden "unclean" around one table. When I read the apostle Paul, I see a man who carried a gospel that he believed could save as well as unite Gentiles and barbarians with Abraham's sacred descendants. I do not ...1