November 29, 2013

Risky Gospel, A Book Review

In the interests of full disclosure, this is a book written by a pal of mine. We’re not best mates or anything, but I have met the guy a few times and I like him a lot. He writes a blog here and he is also the new Director of the Council for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood. I also received an upfront copy before it hit the market. Just so you know.

I have to confess that something inside died a little bit when I read the title for this book. Let's just say Radical by Platt has spawned a generation of cheap imitations, and I tire of some of this ‘call to arms’ stuff that mainly amounts to a lot of hot air and where evangelicals pay to go to conferences to be ‘deeply challenged’ on being more radical, intent on going home and being exactly the same. I wasn't assuaged by the subtitle: Abandon Fear & Build Something Awesome which seemed to sniff of the sort of American Gung-Ho cheesiness which so grates on (many) Europeans.

When I began reading, I found that one of the most surprising revelations in the book is that Owen wanted to be a basketball player as a youngster. Not a bad dream in and of itself, but slightly optimistic when you’re closer to five feet tall than six! Or maybe they have a (literal) little league in the states for that too. C’mon. Even one of his favourite books (Gulliver’s Travels) is about tiny people.

So, is this just a shameless rip off (I think the polite word in publishing circles is ‘re-imagining’) of Radical? I don't think so. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s actually a call to live a life of faith, fuelled by our security in Christ, not for the sake of making ourselves great, but for making our great God known. If there is one unifying theme it is that the gospel is the foundation for all lasting growth and true life transformation. So far, so standard. In fact, the book is pretty much that. Standard. Gospel truths washed down with personal illustrations and a call to live a faith-filled life for the glory of God. No guilt trips. No madly emotional pleas. Just truth, pure and simple. Just a call to live life like we mean what we say we believe. Just encouragement to do the everyday things of life well. His chapter on family life, for instance, was very helpful. Part of living a faith filled life is not the stories of doing the daring thing, but the challenge of doing the basics well. This is the secret to understanding this book. We don’t have to sell up and move out to live a ‘risky gospel’ life. We can do it right where we are right now.

Love God, love the gospel, love your family, love the local church, love the lost. Thanks for coming. Round of applause. See you later. That’s what’s great about this book. It doesn’t leave you thinking, “Right, I better sell the car, buy cheaper curtains and fund a campaign to reach a lost Indian tribe.”It leaves you wanting to embrace your current life situation, re-evaluate it in light of gospel truths, and appreciate more deeply the (so-called) ordinary institutions of family, work, love, and church as platforms for a more faith-filled life.

I like how he writes. I like his homey little stories (even if I didn’t quite identify with them). Mostly, I liked how he is not trying to be sexy. It’s not a book to send thunder and lightning through your veins, but it’s one where I found myself sitting back and thinking: “Good lad. I enjoyed that.” Well written, and I like the way he smashes the gospel, not only all the way through, but when he really drives it home at the final chapter. My only gripe? £10.50 in the UK!!!!! Proper extortion. My advice is to get it used on amazon because it is half the price.

Worth a nibble this one.

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