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December 03, 2005

Book Review: God is the Gospel

The following is a review done on behalf of Mind & Media. The copy of the book I reviewed was donated by the publisher, through Mind & Media for the purpose of this review.

I tried to read this book, honestly I did. I read the first three chapters and wore myself out. I set it aside, finished another book and came back to it, hoping that maybe I was reading too much at one time. But no, it was still just as tedious.

It's not that the topic is bad. It's actually good, but the approach seems to be so abstract and generic that I found it burdensome to hold on to it.

Maybe it's just me, I thought, and went to read some of the other reviewers, all of whom seem to have loved the book. So maybe it is just me.

I went to try to read it again, and found it just as tiresome.

I think the reason may be that I am at a place in my life that I've grown tired of generalities when it comes to spiritual matters. Note how often people refer to it a "sin" rather than "sins". When you use the singular to refer to more than one, it tends to make that object more abstract. Are the sins we each commit, abstract? Or are they concrete things we have chosen to do? The message John Piper is trying to convey in this book is good, but is phrased in a way that is unpalatable to me, having grown weary of sermons and books that toss the reality of our relationship with God into the distance with vaguaries and generalizations. Preachers fall to this so often, not experiencing the kind of day-to-day interactions most people experience with their job or just doing routine stuff. The cluelessness comes across in their sermons long before they themselves realize it, if they ever do. I'm not saying Piper has taken the generalized approach because he lacks an understanding of an applied approach, but to me it makes little difference—it still was too dificult to read.

More and more each day I see people living in the world, seeking God but not knowing where to look. Then I see people in the church reaching out to those people, but spouting generalities, homilies and slogans, and the seekers simply walk away in frustration. The gap is between what we understand the truth to be, and how it actually applies in one's life. Application is rarely generic, or vague, and I'm finding more and more will have common elements if one were to actually take the time to study it. The problem comes in applying God's truths to our lives in such a real way since it demands a response that can be overwhelming. Thus the desire for an abstract Gospel message.

We have the gasoline. They have the car with an empty tank. And we stand there swishing the gasoline around in the can, lecturing about octane content, emissions standards and the combustion reaction process.

Posted by Danny Carlton at December 3, 2005 05:55 PM

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