Book review

A few months ago, Thomas Nelson publishers sent me a copy of "The Hole in Our Gospel" by World Vision president Richard Stearns to read and review. Before becoming president of World Vision (a wonderful organization that aids the poverty-stricken around the world), he was a corporate climber and successful man.

I was interested to read the book because I recognize the need for believers to actively live out their faith by caring for "the least of these," something that is oft-neglected among evangelical Christians today.

However, I was a little disappointed in the book for a couple of reasons. Although it presented biblical truths (the need to care for orphans, widows and the poor), I felt it missed the fundamental truth. There is no "hole in our gospel." There is no good news, no gospel, but this: That a loving God created us in perfect union with Him. Our first parents - Adam and Eve - disobeyed and destroyed that perfect relationship. We have been disobeying the Lord ever since, but in his justness and mercy, he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment WE deserve by dying on horrible death and placing on his shoulders the iniquities of us all. But, death did not conquer God - he conquered death and because he died in our place and conquered death, we are restored to a right relationship with our loving Father. He has adopted us as His children, with the promise that we will are co-heirs with Christ.

It is THAT reality that motivates believers to do the things Rich Stearns talks about. Because God adopted us - who were different and wicked - and shared Christ's inheritance with us, we are motivated to adopt children. Because God gave abundantly - his Son and his life - we are motivated to give abundantly to those who have nothing. Because we have a relationship with the Great Physician, we are motivated to aid others who are sick and in need of assistance.

The Gospel is our motivation for these deeds and more - not an imperfect theology with a hole in it. To say that there is a hole in the Gospel, and that Christians are "expected" to do these things shows that there is no Gospel understanding at all. If we accept the death and resurrection of Christ on our behalf, that is all we need ever do. We are no more righteous before God if we sell everything and give to the poor than if we never do. However, because of God's great love and mercy to us, wicked sinners, we are motivated to image God to those who have never heard him. Social justice isn't the end-game - introducing people to Christ is. If I devote my life to feeding the poor and giving away my possessions out of guilt or a sense of obligation, but I don't tell them about the Treasure of the Gospel, there hasn't been a hole in my gospel, there has been no gospel at all.

The book is an interesting picture at the spiritual journey of Rich Stearns, and for those who want to better understand the plight of people around the world, it's worth reading. However, don't make the mistake of basing your worth before God by how much social justice you do - working your way toward God by doing good things makes your faith no different than people of any faith other than Biblical Christianity.



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I'm a 20-something transplanted Southerner - in love with my Savior and in love with my husband. As we move from urban-loft dwellers to home-owners and parents, feel free to share in the happenings around the VanderHouse.

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