Salvation Culture vs. Gospel Culture

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There seems to be a common misconception among evangelicals and the church today regarding the definition of the gospel. As time progresses, our views have slowly shifted from a “gospel culture” to a “salvation culture” without the majority recognizing any difference between the two. It seems that our current definition of the gospel (salvation culture) tends to focus predominantly on the “Plan of Salvation” and the “Method of Persuasion” while ignoring the rest of the story. Salvation culture focuses solely on the personal aspects of accepting Christ as your savior. It is all about personal salvation. The problem with the salvation culture is that it’s focus ends with you deciding to accept Christ. However, there is much more to the gospel than that. In the Great Commission Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19) Jesus, the disciples, and the early church recognized the need to move from being a “decided” Christian to a “discipled” one. In his book; The King Jesus Gospel, Scot McKnight states, ” A salvation culture does not require The Members or The Decided to become The Discipled for salvation.” This is difference between the original gospel culture and our current salvation culture. While the plan of salvation and the method of persuasion are important parts of the biblical story, it is vital to remember that they do not solely define what the gospel is. The gospel cannot be understood without first understanding the story of Israel and what Jesus meant to Abraham’s descendants and why. This is something that our current “salvation culture” leaves out completely. The gospel according to the salvation culture does not need the Old Testament at all, which has become a serious problem when shaping our definition. The plan of salvation and the method of persuasion are meant to be built from our knowledge of Israel’s story and God’s original intention for humanity which is found only in the Old Testament. The gospel is not just comprised of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John like many who share the “salvation culture” perspective believe. But rather, the gospel begins with creation and ends with Jesus fulfilling the prophecies of Israel’s coming Messiah.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. (2001). Minneapolis, MN.: Crossway.

McKnight, S. (2011). The King Jesus Gospel. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.

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