What is the role of cultural context as we read and understand the Bible? Here McKnight moves his discussion in a direction which I think is very problematic. Let’s see.
McKnight, Scot. Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Brazos Press, 2014. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 4, “Kingdom Mission Is All about Context.” pp. 43-62
McKnight begins by stating that Israel’s stories were not timeless (McKnight 2014, 43). He goes on to explain that they are tied to the context in which they were written. Jesus then took situations from the Bible and spoke to the people of his age. McKnight views this application as a “countercultural” message to “marginalized” people (McKnight 2014, 43). He concludes based on these premises that our work of the kingdom is to apply Jesus’ message to our context.
McKnight continues by looking for context messages in extrabiblical settings. The author or artist will regularly insert his own interpretation into a situation. Likewise, Israel inserted an interpretation of God’s kingship, Israel as his chosen people, and a future divine realm into all the Scripture (McKnight 2014, 45). The work of the writers of Scripture was to see who could present those ideas convincingly (McKnight 2014, 46). Citing an apocryphal psalm from the first century B.C., Mcknight draws a picture of the expectations people would have of a Messiah (McKnight 2014, 48). He cites also the Maccabees and the Essenes, the rise of the Pharisees, and of the Sadducees. All were interested in being faithful to the Bible. Jesus, as opposed to the other groups, laid out a Scripture talking of love and a hopeful future. He saw the kingdom as what God was doing (McKnight 2014, 53). According to McKnight, we also need to see this same kingdom.
McKnight emphasizes that the articulation of the kingdom fits in its own context (McKnight 2014, 53). He illustrates this with stories of ministry that happens naturally in the settings we find ourselves in daily. He then affirms that “kingdom mission counters ruling stories at work in our world” (McKnight 2014, 56). He seems to think a traditional Christianity will be “coercive” (McKnight 2014, 57) but needs to operate in persistent love. The work of the kingdom then is a counterculture (McKnight 2014, 59).