Sunday, June 2, 2013
The Explicit Gospel, a review
By Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson
Simply put, Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson see that Christendom has lost it's way in regards to the Gospel, and have assumed it. Their attack is on "moralistic therapeutic Deism" that is rampant in both mainline protestantism as well as within evangelicalism's back yard. The Explicit Gospel sets out to aim our sights back to the original gospel and to a right relationship with it.
This is more of a concession on my part, but I don't care for the writing style of Chandler and Wilson. This is, however, a strength because it will work for most who pick up this book. It is robust, blunt and often intentionally provocative. While I prefer works that are more subtle and indirect, The Explicit Gospel to it's credit deserve praise in this area.
Chandler and Wilson marshal some ample biblical evidence in support of their conclusions about the gospel of the ground and of the air. Though they don't quite delve into the meaty areas they bring up (this is a more popular work), their use of Scripture is generally solid and makes some great distinction between both ground and air.
This book strives for practicality and however it works or doesn't work, praise should be offered for attempting to take lofty themes and make them physically feasible.
They also quote N.T. Wright, which is a nice gesture across the aisle. I wish thy had done this more consistently, but like I said, praise is necessary when gestures are made.
I took the chance to listen to Matt's sermons before reading this, and found them to be largely tangental. This is not necessarily a weakness in a sermon, but The Explicit Gospel seems to meander quite a bit as stories are brought up that only vaguely resemble the original thesis.
Chandler and Wilson also take a lot of potshots at those they disagree with, and often they overstep their bounds. In one section, they insinuate that Christians who believe in evolution are doing so to keep their jobs. One could reverse the claim that Chandler and Wilson are doing that same in defending "historic creationism" as I doubt most pastors would be allowed by their denominations and congregations to openly support evolution. This seems to be a short sight on the parts of Matt and Jared.
I do not think these potshots are merited in the manner of which they are asserted. This also happens with their treatment of egalitarians in an appendix, as cultural conditioning is assumed on their part, and no Scripture is cited to support their thoughts. Essentially, these tangents are polemic and seem far more reactionary than needed.
A final weakness, for me, is indeed something I mentioned in the strengths and that is the style of writing. If it works for others, great. However, much of the book read as an extended series of blog posts, and I do wonder if that would've been a better way to approach the issue, as it allows for the authors and readers to dialogue more on these weighty subjects.
Chandler and Wilson, despite their slip-ups in regards to their handling of the secondary issues held to be other Christians, deserve praise for writing a popular and passionate defense of their interpretation of the Gospel. In the grand scheme of things, it works quite well. It is concise and not without many wonderful positives. However, the noted flaws and tangents do detract quite a bit, and the rhetoric often devolves into unnecessary polemics. Worth your time (especially if you want a more Reformed view of the Gospel), but most certainly not perfect.
3 out of 5.