The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited 13 – The Genevan Confession

Like the Augsburg Confession, the Genevan Confession is framed even more by a “salvation culture.” Hence, here are the central articles that express the heart of the Reformed perspective on the gospel:

The Word of God The one and only God The law of God alike for all The natural man — total depravity Man by himself is lost Salvation in Jesus Righteousness in Jesus Regeneration in Jesus Remission of sins necessary for the faithful.

Once again, the list continues with other items of the faith: all our good in the grace of God, faith, invocation of God only and intercession of Christ, prayer intelligible, the sacraments of baptism and the Holy Supper, human traditions, the church, excommunication, ministers of the Word, and magistrates. Even more so with Calvin (and William Farel) than with Luther, the gospel story is set into a new framing story, the story of salvation. Contemporary evangelicalism, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States, has absorbed this Reformation (salvation) story. To put it lightly, in many cases it has not only absorbed but done plenty of subtraction and reframing.

There are huge pockets of evangelicalism where this profound Reformation reframing is little more than four simple (and thin) points: God loves you, you are messed up, Jesus died for you, accept him and (no matter what you do) you can go to heaven. My contention is not that the Reformation created that sort of gospel, but that the Reformation’s reshaping of the gospel story has made it a pale shadow of what it ought to be. (p. 72)

In fact, no one can read either Luther or Calvin and not observe that they operated with both a profound gospel culture and a profound salvation culture. I have no desire to blame them or the Reformation for the soterians or a “salvation culture.” I thank God for the Reformation. But I do want to point out that the seeds for the contemporary and mostly evangelical four-points approach to the gospel could not have happened were it not for the Reformation’s shifting from the story to soteriology. (p. 73)





Scot McKnight, The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited (Zondervan, 2011), p. 72.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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