Something happened in the 1990s and 2000s: the old-fashioned gospel of the four spiritual laws or the bridge fell apart in the hands of the next generation. I don’t know if that collapse occurred because of generational shifts in that the language no longer worked, or if it collapsed because biblical studies were unveiling a more profound and more accurate gospel.
Many have undertaken to be “more biblical” about the gospel and the most recent is a fine study by Cyd Holsclaw and Geoff Holsclaw. (Confession: Geoff is a colleague of mine at Northern.) Their new book is called Does God Really Like Me? Discovering the God Who Wants to be With Us. [#ad]
Theirs is a study that explores the gospel through the idea of “with-ness.” A very helpful term. This is a fresh study that can be used easily in churches.
An existential question they ask is a deep gospel question: OK, God loves us but does God like us? Put differently, does God want to be with us? Great question because it permits them to reframe the gospel itself. The gospel is about God coming to be with us in Christ and indwelling us through the Spirit so that we become the abiding place of God, God’s temple, in this world. Our purpose is to bless the world by mediating God’s joyful presence.
They are fond of images and throughout the book this image continues to develop. The essential idea is that God comes to be with us in order to remake us and work through us for the blessing of the world.
Here is a good example of their work: “since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). What does this mean? Does this mean God has set for us the pattern of perfection and, since we fail, we lose access to God and forfeit redemption? Or, what does glory mean?
They contend that glory is about the splendor and joy of God’s presence and we lack this when we wander off the path into sin. God is on the path and we are called back to the path where one finds the joy of God’s redemptive grace and joyous presence. I think this is right about glory and this can reframe the gospel into the relational joy of redemption. Something sorely needed.
No lack of Spirit in this book.
No lack of mission in this book.
No lack of theology in this book.
No lack of stories in this book.
No lack of pastoral giftedness in this book.
A book worthy of your purchasing it.