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Evangelism - Myers Mott Maggay Linthicum        

McLaren on the Kingdom of God  

"I was having lunch one day with a well-known scholar ... I was sipping my hot-and-sour soup when he said, 'You know, most evangelicals haven't the foggiest notion of what the gospel really is.' I considered myself an evangelical, so I felt a bit challenged by his statement. In response I started at my soup, hoping he'd resolve the issue without asking my opinion, but he was too good an educator for that. 'What would you say the gospel is, Brian?'

"I answered by quoting the apostle Paul in the New Testament - statements about justification by grace through faith, the free gift of salvation, Christ being a substitutionary sacrifice for my sin. 'That's exactly what most evangelicals say,' he replied, letting the tension hang for what seemed to me like a long, long time. I looked up from my soup and asked, a little defensively, 'Well, then what would you say the gospel is, it it's not that?' I was preparing myself for heresy, not for enlightenment, since I was quite confident in my quotations from Paul. 

"'The kingdom of God is at hand. That was Jesus' message. Don't you think we should let Jesus tell us what the gospel is?' His reply confounded me. Of course I had to agree with him. But I could see no connection between the message of the kingdom of God and the gospel as I understood it from Paul.

"How did I deal with the tension? I didn't. Somehow, I just put it aside. I sat on it. I ignored it. It was several years later, when I began the quest that led to the writing of this book, that 'the hot and sour soup conversation came back to me. ... I don't think Paul is the enemy, I think our misinterpretations of Paul are the enemy. I think Paul is actually a friend of the gospel of the kingdom, perhaps its best friend since Jesus. 

Click here to read McLaren's exegesis of Paul on kingdom.

The Secret Message of Jesus, Brian D. McLaren, Thomas Nelson, 2006, p. 90-91.

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