Book Club Channel
Praise for The Briarpatch Gospel
Shayne Wheeler writes like he preaches—earthy and edgy—just enough to make the religious people nervous and the irreligious interested. This dispatch from the briarpatch is a provocative book for both, a page-turning debut filled with wisdom and encouragement.
—Scot Sherman, President, Newbigin House of Studies
This unusual book has thrilled me afresh with the sheer magnitude of what God has done in Christ. (And I've been around a long time.) Shayne Wheeler is a unique author, and in this work he's remarkably effective in describing the realities of this "briarpatch" into which Christ and the gospel come: the human brokenness, the doubts, the grotesque caricatures of the gospel, the judgmentalism, the idolatries of money and sex, along with the sterile spirituality of ossified churchgoers. Shayne is a rare combination of one with a profound understanding of the New Testament message, irrepressible storytelling, and a mischievous sense of humor; but in all he exalts the grace and love of God. He is an artist with words, with a wealth of literary resources. But what gives this work depth is that he has suffered, and so runs deep. Read this book and be transformed.
—Robert Thornton Henderson, author of The Church and the Relentless Darkness
The Briarpatch Gospel is a conversation igniter for real people with real questions about the most tension-filled topics holding people back from true faith. I recommend it to anyone who wants to move past shallow talk and dig deep into the messiness of love and community.
—Jeff Shinabarger, Founder, Plywood People, and author of More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity
Too often, the church has offered false sanctuary behind walls of greeting-card platitudes, pretty buildings, tidy self-help programs, and pat answers. Shayne Wheeler shows us the uncomfortable truth that Jesus is calling us to come out from behind the walls we build and join him in the briarpatches of the world, where he delights to meet us. Do we really trust Jesus enough to follow him into the thickets of life? Will we move toward the pain, or flee from it? Is the briarpatch the place for you? Yes, if you will trust and go. Shayne offers an encouragement: You don't journey there alone. He has stumbled into the dark tangle of thorns, and he knows—it's the only way to really meet Jesus and his family.
—Ray Cannata, Senior pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church of New Orleans
I am thankful for The Briarpatch Gospel. It is obvious that Jesus has grabbed hold of Shayne Wheeler in a profound and personal way that has poured out into this important book. Wheeler writes with depth and simplicity, transparency and humor in describing God's disruptive grace. He uses language that engages scholars and speaks plainly to laypeople. He tells his own story in a way that embraces skeptics and strugglers as he invites us into a beautifully woven narrative that compels us to keep reading until finished, while being nourished all along the way. We will use this book in our church in the years to come, and I will count it among my favorites.
—Mike Khandjian, Senior pastor, Chapelgate Presbyterian Church, Greater Baltimore, Maryland
Shayne Wheeler tackles the messier issues of life head-on because he knows it's in life's messiness that we find God, and it's in the broken places where we find God's healing. The Briarpatch Gospel reminds us that Christianity was never meant to be a religion of safety and comfort and that God calls us to carry our light into the darkest shadows where it can actually be of use. We don't have to fear the hard questions, even if we don't always know the answers.
—Josh Jackson, Cofounder and editor in chief, Paste magazine