Tag Archives: Gospel

Quick Review: Pursuing Justice

One of the books with the most impact on me this year was Ken Wytsma’s Pursuing Justice: The Call to Live & Die for Bigger ThingsI read it in the summer, but I re-read it over the past couple of weeks. Wytsma founded Kilns college and started The Justice Conference. I’ve started going through the last couple conferences via what is on the internet and vimeo.

This book is a primer on God’s heart for justice and offers a corrective to both social gospel as well as gnostic, all that matters is the afterlife,  approaches to the gospel. There’s a strong Biblical foundation offered for what the Scriptures really say about justice and where many of us have gone off to one extreme or the other.

There’s a few chapters I loved.  There is a chapter focused on advent, the incarnation, that was exceptional regarding the call to incarnate into people’s lives and realities as fundamental to Christian life and ministry. Given that I re-read it prior to Christmas this year, my second reading of this chapter was even more meaningful. Maybe the chapter I appreciated the most though was the chapter entitled “Empathy” that connects are hard-wired human ability to feel what other people feel and experience as a key to God’s heart for justice. Without empathy, there is no justice.  There is a paradigm offered in this chapter regarding empathy and “the other” which may come in handy in my PhD research.

Wytsma covers a lot of ground. In addition to the above, he tackles briefly the gospel and politics, the history of the evangelical phobia of “social justice,” and the range of response to justice such as apathy. This book is a great introduction to thinking Biblically about justice and it’s a convicting one that all believers would benefit from.

One of my big takeaways, while not a new conviction, is a deeper commitment that Christian ministry along with its methodology reflects what the Scriptures really teach about the gospel and justice. That’s neither the social gospel or the spiritual escapism often present in evangelicalism today. When word and deed go together, it’s a powerful thing and I’m thankful for those who are helping lead the church towards a more integrated and restorative vision of what it means to be the Church.

I will come back to this book because it also cites really great sources and work from many historical and contemporary justice practitioners. While I’ve read a decent amount regarding justice, there was much that was new to me in terms of stories and anecdotes, but the resources referenced were just as much of a blessing.

 

Quick Review: Resolving Everyday Conflict

Sande and Johnson’s Resolving Everyday Conflict is essentially an abridged version of Sande’s more well known The Peacemaker.  It’s a great summary of Sande’s approach to resolving conflict and it’s very manageable and framed in a very accessible and smooth way.

I did this book via audio book despite already having the e-book. It took me less than 3 hours to listen to it so it wasn’t long at all.  I covered all of Resolving Everday Conflict to and from a hospital visit to a friend (Manila traffic!)

It includes chapters on Sande’s “4 G’s” as well as the “7 A’s of Confession/Apologies.” If you don’t know what those are – get one of these books or google summaries of the Peacemaker and you can probably find a good summary out there. I have no doubt there are fantastic summaries online out there for free.

This would be a great and manageable resource to do conflict resolution training because it’s concise and clear and easy to go through. The ebook version is only 2 –  3 $ less than the full version of The Peacemaker which goes into a lot of the content on a much deeper level so if you had to pick one book I’d suggest The Peacemaker, but if you know you only can manageable a smaller dose of content that covers the essence – this is a great option.

If you have not read either, I highly recommend going through it. It’s great content on conflict resolution, forgiveness, and essentially the gospel as well since that is the foundation of Christian reconciliation.

 

Brief Review: The Faces of Jesus

I just finished reading The Faces of Jesus: A Life Story by Frederick Buechner and wanted to pass on a few thoughts.  First, I really enjoyed this book.  I found it to be a great devotional supplement for reflection and meditation.

The book is fairly short – less than 100 pages and is divided into 7 chapters ranging from the Anunciation of the coming of Christ to the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

The book for the most part I found to be very beautifully written and there were some sections that were just incredible I thought.  There are points where I think Buechner drifts a little bit into the poetic and abstract in his imagination of what was going on during the life of Christ. I think Jesus in the Scriptures has much more concreteness to him that what some paragraphs lend themselves to.  But nevertheless, I think the author successfully provides a road map of reflection of the journey of Christ and its implications for each person.  Very powerful.

Personally – I actually found the prologue or introduction to be my favorite part of the whole book. Not sure I have ever said that before.  But beautifully written and powerful.

So if you’re looking for something devotional or that will stimulate your reflection on Jesus and the life of Christ, this could be a great option for you – especially if you appreciate imaginative reflection as a literary style.

 

Quick Thots on King Jesus Gospel

I just finished Scot McKnight’s most recent book King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited and wanted to share a few thoughts.  I’m not going to do a big review here.  I’ll redirect you to a review my friend Mike did on this book a month or so ago.  I’m not sure I would write much different than him.

A co-worker I serve with in the Theological Development world of my organization told me he thought it was both brilliant and frustrating.  I felt the same thing, but found it in general to be way more brilliant than frustrating.

This book is a really important book for Evangelicals especially to wrestle with given the long history of limiting the gospel to what McKnight calls “the plan of salvation.”  In particular, this book offers a pretty strong critique of some of the methods and traditions of my own ministry organization.  Internal debates about “the gospel” have been taking place outside and within my organization for a long time.  This book provides as good of a framework as I’ve seen for exploring what really is “the gospel” as the New Testament teaches it.

The best way to summarize the book is that the reason the church today has more of a “salvation culture” versus a robust “gospel culture” is anchored in the way we’re framing and teaching the “gospel.” He argues that stripping the “gospel” of the full story of Jesus in the context of the story of Israel has led to an incomplete and insufficient gospel for the church and the lost both.

I think this really would be one of the top books I would recommend to people as believers or as ministers.  It’s a significant book.  Check out my friend Mike’s review on it.  But I’ll add this.

One of the gems of this book is that there are multiple appendices.  I found it incredible to just read through some of them as they are organized by passages in the New Testament where the gospel is being framed and spoken.  Going through these gospel sermons in Acts and other books one after the other was one of the most devotional and transformational things I’ve done in a while.

So I’d encourage you to move this to the top of your reading list.  You may be bothered by it, you may be troubled, you may be inspired and find it to be refreshing and hopeful as you consider the future of your life and ministry.