This isn’t a very new book. It was released a couple of years ago and has sat on my shelf for most of that time. Why? Because I judged the book by it’s cover, title and promotional bus.
To be honest, the word ‘explicit’ just made me think the book was going to be a rant. I know, I know, ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’….well, I did, and I was wrong. I have just finished reading ‘the explicit gospel‘ and found it very helpful and I think it is a book that could really help other people too.
Matt Chandler has written a book that makes one very important point: as evangelical Christians we have not realised that the gospel is both ‘on the ground’ and ‘in the air’. Now, when I first read that I didn’t really have a clue what he was on about. But as you read the book you see that there is a glaring weakness in our overall understanding of Christianity.
The ‘gospel on the ground’ is the gospel ‘at the micro level’ and the ‘gospel in the air’ is the gospel ‘at the macro level’. ‘One gospel, two vantage points. Both are necessary in order to begin to glimpse the size and the weight of the good news, the eternity-spanning wonderment of the finished work of Christ.’
Traditionally (and in a very sweeping generalization) evangelical Christians tend to emphasis the gospel on the ground. That is, the fact that Jesus died to save sinners. This is the gospel that we preach in evangelistic sermons and write in tracts. Matt Chandler helps us understand this gospel with great illustrations and biblical clarity. However, he points out that if we leave the gospel there, we end up missing out.
Interestingly it is liberal/ social action Christians who tend to emphasis the gospel in the air. This is the cosmic view of the gospel. The idea that God is not only redeeming humans but the world in it’s entirety. Very often this leads to wanting to help the culture/ society but not evangelize. This aspect (vantage point) of the gospel is therefore often underplayed by evangelicals. Thus this was an emphasis and explination that I found particularly helpful in the book. Leaning heavily from NT Wright, Chandler explores how God has a plan for this world and a glorious future here.
In the last section of the book Chandler helps us see the dangers in spending too much time ‘on the ground’ (sectarianism) or ‘in the air’ (syncretism). Those chapters are very balanced, fair and a good clarion call to understanding the explicit (fully and clearly expressed) gospel.
If you want a short and snappy book, this is not for you. It is a bit of hard work to read.
However, if you want to expand your vision of the gospel, this is a good place to start.