I found John Starke’s respectful iron-sharpening-iron tweaking of Trevin Wax’s three-legged stool analogy for the gospel to be a helpful improvement.
Instead of saying that (1) story, (2) announcement, and (3) community are the three equal legs of a stool, Starke explains his alternative:
So here is my counter-solution to Wax’s “three-legged stool.” In keeping with the “stool” illustration, let’s say the the gospel (its saving powerful announcement and definition) is the stool itself, not just one of the legs, but the entire support system.
The legs that support the gospel are the (1) the story, since it gives the gospel its context; (2) the community of a local church that encourages us to preserve the gospel and live in accordance with it; and (3) good works and holiness as the fruit of new birth and a life that is empowered by the Spirit.
Some of these legs will be weaker than others at times, but it is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ that we are saved.
This seems helpful to me. I think one can agree with virtually everything in Trevin’s helpful work while wanting to find a more compelling version of the metaphor.
I’m thankful for discussions like this as we seek to articulate and advance the gospel together as brothers and sisters.
Update: Trevin responds.