24 January 2014

Book Review: Risky Gospel

For me, this was the right book at the right time. I guess I would characterize Owen Strachan's Risky Gospel (2013) as a treatise on Christian spirituality and growth. But it is not just that.  It is also a book that stresses the importance of a biblical worldview for all areas of life. And it is also deeply gospel centered.  At its essence, though, Strachan issues a bold call to 21st century Christians to step out of their comfortable enclaves and begin to take risks for the gospel, to believe what the word of God actually says.  

In the opening chapter, Strachan diagnoses what he sees as the problem, a church that is scared of confrontation and desires above all to be safe. Having observed many believers, including myself, I think he is an astute diagnostician, though if we are to be honest, it is not a difficult diagnosis to make. Having pointed out our fear, he begins to lay groundwork for how Christians might begin to risk it all for the sake of the gospel. On page 29, he wrote, "we are saved not so we can hedge our bets. We are saved to put everything on the table for God"

I appreciated several things about this book.  Throughout the book, but particularly in the chapter "Risky Identity", Strachan seeks to remind us who we are in Christ.  We are not just forgiven, we are new creations in Christ who are more than conquerors. In that context, he offers a bold push-back against the view that even though we are saved, we are always going to be a mess, while at the same time acknowledging that we will always be sinners. 

In the later two-thirds of the book, Strachan explores what this "risky identity" means for the Christian life. He examines risky spirituality, risky families, risky work, risky church, risky evangelism, risky citizenship, and risky failure.  Each of these represent aspects of the Christian's life where being a bold gospel witness is important. In each of the chapters, Strachan briefly established the theology behind his thinking and provided poignant examples before he moved on to much more practical advice. For example, when he exhorts the reader to develop risky families, he provides a number of practical steps that people can implement to grow that area.  This is one of the greatest strengths of the book.  In fact, the practicality of his writing often brought to mind specific people that I know who would benefit from certain concepts, myself included. 

Their is not much that detracts from this book.  By the end, the notion of "risky" felt a bit overwrought much like John Piper's "future grace" in his book by the same name, but I understand how it becomes part of the branding and central theme flowing throughout. 

Strachan is a strong writer and communicator. I have been blessed to read things he has written in the past and this book is equally engaging.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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