Tonight I will lecture on the gospel and the New Testament in Adelaide, Australia. It is my second time here with Tom and Diane Golding serving as hosts before I do a National Community Church Conference here later this week on Leadership and Spiritual Formation.
Then I will head on to Perth and Harvest West College to complete a class I have been teaching through an online module up to this point in what has been a fascinating exercise in distance teaching over the Net. After 6 weeks of online interaction, there will be a week of class face to face in a full modular format.
My dear friend Scot McKnight was in Adelaide a few weeks ago and addressed a similar topic. Our positions are very close but he juxtaposes a kingdom gospel and a cross gospel in a way that treats them as distinct messages and competing ideas, while I prefer to stress the relationship between the cross and the kingdom. I argue the cross is at the hub of the kingdom program of God, by procuring the relationship that restores us to living in the way God desires. God reclaims the lostness in the full creation and we in our salvation are a part of that larger story. This more cosmic and corporate goal is something an emphasis in a more individualized gospel generally lacks. It is something Scot and I both affirm as a key element in NT teaching. Scripture points to this larger and more cosmic concern as the scope of the discussion of salvation in Romans 8 readily shows.
Our more individualized Western culture tends to create a blind spot when it comes to these more corporate dimensions of salvation. The impact can be that we lose sight of mission once we get saved and have avoided divine condemnation. That is sad and significant because part of the purpose of salvation is to reconnect us with God and His purposes so we can live in ways that are pleasing to Him and honor Him. Participation and contributing to what God is doing in the world is a part of that kingdom call wherever He has us. So the lecture tonight should be a good chance for a meaningful exchange of ideas at Adelaide College of Ministries with his lecture fresh on their minds.