RELEASE DATE: APRIL 24, 2012
Oddly enough, gospel has become a bit of a buzz word among Christian circles. It has been popping-up in the title of many popular new books and attaching itself to other popular buzz-words such as social or centered. In his first book, The Explicit Gospel, Matt Chandler argues that perhaps a common problem when using the word gospel is that it is often-times implied, but never defined. Hence, Chandler sets out to “explicitly” define the gospel while taking some time along the way to unpack the consequences of an implied gospel.
This book is split up into three sections: “The Gospel on the Ground”, “The Gospel in the Air”, and “Implications and Applications”. The “Gospel on the Ground,” as Chandler explains it, is the personal aspect of salvation. It is here that he systematically builds a biblical theology of God, man, Christ, and our response. The “Gospel in the Air” describes more of the over-arching narrative of the Bible: creation, the fall, God’s redemption of man to Himself, and consummation.
One of the main consequences to an implied gospel that Chandler harps on is moralistic, therapeutic deism. This is the idea that “we are able to earn favor with God and justify ourselves before God by virtue of our behavior.” In other words, when application, and I use this term loosely, is preached or taught without tying that application to an explicit gospel, what you end up with is people thinking God is pleased with them as long as they do “good” things and refrain from “bad” things. I love Chandler’s argument against moralistic, therapeutic deism.
This book has been highly anticipated among evangelicals who are familiar with Matt Chandler’s passionate and witty teaching style. However, I’m not sure that his style translated seamlessly into a book. If I am reading a book by someone whose teaching I am familiar with, I can generally picture them speaking the words of the book. But with The Explicit Gospel, I just had trouble hearing his distinct voice and style of teaching. Also, the wit that works so well behind the pulpit felt a little awkward in some places.
Do not misread me, this is a solid book which I thoroughly enjoyed. Chandler makes a compelling argument for the Gospel and does so in a way that is very readable. For the longtime Christian, this book can act as a great refresher for things we should already believe. For the new Christian or non-Christian, it can break down some complex truths that might help this faith make a little more sense. For anyone willing to give The Explicit Gospel a chance, your time with this book would be time well spent.