What is the gospel? This is a question that McLaren has been asking for as long as I have been reading his works. I will agree with McLaren that the gospel is not the bullet-pointed, systematic plan to get out of Hell that most evangelicals reduce it to.
To McLaren, we need to figure out what the gospel is according to Jesus. He asks whether what we call the “gospel” is the same as what Jesus called the gospel. A great question to ask!
Did I like McLaren’s answer? It wasn’t bad. It was incomplete in my opinion. His Kingdom is bounded by the natural works, by our ability to build the Kingdom. It dwelled too much on the problems of the 21s Century and not enough on the larger flaws in the human race. He does not address sin. He chooses to think of mankind as inately good and continually progressing toward greater goodness. I’m afraid the Scriptures would disagree.
Man is only good in synergy with God and thus we do not naturly become better. So, the Kingdom is not something we build; it is something about the presence of Jesus. I do believe that we evangelicals miss the point when we make Jesus’ entire message about heaven and hell. It is definitely more about how we impact the world at large than just how many converts we make.