Learning to Tell the Kingdom Story That Makes Sense of Jesus (an Excerpt from Kingdom Conspiracy by Scot McKnight)

The following is an excerpt from chapter three of Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church by Scot McKnight.


Kingdom’s first word is “story.” Proverbs says, “Without a story [or vision directing one’s plan in life] the people perish” (29:18, paraphrased).

Israelites made sense of life through the story they learned to tell themselves. So Bible scholars today are searching for the best way to tell the Bible’s story.

For the Pleated Pants approach to kingdom, since it focuses on the redemptive-rule dynamic, the Bible’s central story is about individual persons whose crisis is their sin and its consequences, and the resolution is the atoning work of Christ that both ends the consequences of their sin and offers them a new life and hope for the kingdom. This approach to the Bible’s story clearly has all the necessary elements of a story: characters, events, tension, and resolution.

The Skinny Jeans story is about participating in the direction of our world by lending a hand so the world will become a better place. Life’s theme, then, is about being significant, and significance is usually wrapped up in things like justice and peace.

What we know is that both the Pleated Pants and Skinny Jeans approaches lead to a mission: the first leads to evangelism and to church while the second leads to social activism and a better world. Kingdom story creates kingdom mission, but it leads us beyond evangelism and social activism.

It all hangs on which story we tell. I lay down an observation that alters the landscape if we embrace it—namely, we need to learn to tell the story that makes sense of Jesus. Not a story that we ask Jesus to fit into. No, we need to find the story that Jesus himself and the apostles told.

To use common idiom, If Jesus was the answer, what was the question? I suggest that if we leave it at that, the “question” can roam across the entire Christian theological spectrum.

So I want to narrow that idiom to this: If Jesus was the answer, and the answer was that Jesus was the Messiah/King, what was the question? This answer changes the question, and that question leads to the right story.


©2014 by Scot McKnight. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.