October 19, 2011
Book Review: The World-Tilting Gospel
If you are a Christian looking to grow in your faith and biblical maturity, this book is for you. If you are a new believer trying to figure out what to do next, this book is for you. If you are just curious about what Christianity is really all about, this book is for you.
I was very excited to get TWTG, even though I really didn't have a solid idea what it was about. Oh sure, I'd been seeing the plugs and buildup on Dan's blog (which you should follow) as well as the blog to which he contributes (which you should also follow). But the main reason I got the book was because I loved reading Dan's blogs so much. He writes the way I like to read - clever, to the point, honest, and humorous.
I got TWTG in the mail (via Amazon, it's also available on kindle) and thought, "Oh, 300 pages, I can knock this out this weekend, might take till the middle of the week."
Silly me. We know never to judge a book by its cover, but I often forget not to judge a book by its size, either. I got TWTG back in August. I just finished it. Why did it take so long?
If I could use one word to describe TWTG, it would be "rich." From start to finish, the book is rich in both content and style. Dan's blog style carries into the book perfectly: serious but not somber, funny but not flippant, and packed to the brim communicating full biblical truths in an accessible and understandable way.
TWTG starts by asking a very important question: Why aren't (most) of the Christians today burning up the world like those in the first century?
The rest of the book proceeds to answer that question logically, biblically and systematically, by answering these other questions: Who Are We? What Has God Done For Us? How Do We Get In? How Do We Get Going?
Any person at any point in their spiritual lives could pick up TWTG and benefit from it. There were many points in the reading where I had to stop and set the book down for a while, sometimes days, to really ponder what I had read. This is why it took me weeks to finish it. There was a lot to chew on and digest, mentally, which is what I look for in books about faith.
The fourth segment of the book was where I became most invested. It essentially deals with the "Well, now what do I do?" stage that comes after salvation. How do I find victory in my daily life? How do I become more like Christ and less like the world? Dan outlines three very popular wrong approaches to this question and then shows us what the Bible teaches.
I think I've gone through each of those phases at one point or another, specifically the one he calls "crisis upgraders." That is, the idea that there is a quick-fix one-touch solution or formula for instant spiritual maturity. If I just do this Bible study, go to this retreat, follow this plan, etc., then I am *guaranteed* to see access some fruit of the spirit or spiritual gift heretofore inaccessible to me with little-to-no struggle or trial. I'll go from a "lesser" Christian to a "super" Christian in 1 easy step!
I admit, throughout my life, I have definitely thought of some people as being some kind of first-class Christians while I'm just a second-class one. The ones who seem to have it all together naturally, who apparently never have to struggle or ever have a hair out of place. They followed that 1-step plan, figured out the "secret formula" to holiness, and were inside God's special-special circle, and I wasn't.
In reality, as Dan shows us from the Bible, there is really only one kind of Christian - the adopted, redeemed child of God. There's not an "elite member" status. There aren't people who have a special access to God that the rest of us don't. There aren't Christians who have the Holy Spirit and Christians who don't.
That's why we don't need any earthly mediators to approach God on our behalf, or have to perform some special ritual to "fully" receive the Holy Spirit. As soon as we become a child of God, we're in fellowship with Him, and as it says in Hebrews, we can "approach the throne of Grace with confidence." And we have full access to the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, which was probably my favorite chapter (13).
Several of you commented on my post last week how much you appreciated that the things I wrote were backed up with Scriptures right there in the post. TWTG functions the same way (only better, since Dan actually knows Hebrew and Greek, and can go back to the original language of the Bible) by presenting how these principles apply to our lives and supporting those points with Scripture. TWTG isn't "What Dan think the Bible says." It's "What the Bible says."
I could go on and on, but I'll finish by saying I cannot recommend TWTG highly enough. It will make you think, make you laugh, make you cry (or maybe that's just me), and goad you to a deeper understanding of who God is and what He wants for your life and this world. I can see TWTG being on my regular reading rotation for a while.