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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Book Review

Today's Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic? by Walter J. Chantry

I received this book from a friend of mine. It sat in my computer bag for a few days, then made its way to my desk, and eventually found itself in my hands.

As I mentioned in my return post, the concept of guarding and guiding has been on my mind a lot lately. This appears to again be the genius of the illustrations God uses. A CEO does not convey the work of a pastor, nor does a coach. There is more involved than these illustrations can provide (as helpful as they may be at times). To this date, despite its cultural obscurity, nothing expresses pastoring better than shepherding. Not only must a shepherd both guard and guide, he must also know when each is appropriate. You cannot guard your sheep to still waters. It is equally futile to guide them from a ravenous wolf.

Evangelism is a perfect example of this. Years ago, evangelism seemed to be very strong in guarding, but lacked something in guiding. We warned people of hell and told them Jesus could protect them from it. Last night, I spoke with a gentleman who "came to Jesus" years ago because he was scared of hell. Yet, he was never actually guided to God. He had no concept of God's righteousness. He was not aware of God's mercy. He didn't desire to know God. He just wanted to be guarded from hell.

So, the pendulum has swung. Today, our evangelism is largely marked by guiding. We turn to a person and offer them happiness, peace, joy, comfort, blessing and reason for existence. We attempt to guide them directly to Jesus, showing them how He can improve their life. Sure there is sin, but we all sin, they don't really need to dwell on that. Then we scratch our heads and wonder why people are not convicted and why "carnal christianity" (I don't believe that exists, but that's a later post) is so rampant.

Could it be that we swung from one extreme to the next?

Thanks to examples like Todd Friel and Ray Comfort on Way of the Master Radio, I've begun using the words "repent and trust" much more in my preaching and evangelism. Chantry's book helps us realize that truly this is the way of the Master. Chantry takes the reader through the interaction of Jesus and the rich young ruler. Chantry shows the reader how Jesus "did evangelism," questions whether we have a right to change it, and then shows us the results of doing so. It's a very short book, but is exegetically superior and very practical in nature. I would love to buy a book for every pastor I know. (But sadly realize that we pastors rarely read books that others dump on us.)

To evangelize as Jesus did we must guard. We must call a person to turn from their sin. We must help them see the destructive nature of their sin. We must help them see they need rescued from the wrath of God. But we don't just sweep the room clean and leave it empty. We then take them to the cross. We show them their Savior crucified, buried and risen! We show them that they can not only be saved from God but also to God. We call them to trust in the One who is so merciful. Jesus certainly preached an authentic gospel, and His gospel certainly had both elements in it.

I highly recommend you check out the book.


  • At 9:52 AM, Blogger danny2 said…

    I didn't mention this in the article, but the book was originally written in 1970, so it would be unfair to say it is a reaction to many of the more popular ministries today...it outdates them!

    however, it's probably more applicable today than the day it was written.


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