Many Christians have the wrong idea about the Christian life. In my early teens I was one of those people. I attended church all the time. At a summer camp in my early teens I came back from camp on fire for Christ in the biblical sense of the word. No longer was I interested in a superficial understanding of Christianity. I knew what I didn’t know and wanted more and not just more activity. I wanted more of Jesus and less of me. This set me on a journey of no longer being a mile wide and an inch deep to being a mile wide and by the grace of God daily growing deep in His Word and His grace. As I recently reflected on these events in my life, I read a new book Risky Gospel Abandon Faith and Build Something Awesome by Dr. Owen Strachan, Executive Director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and assistant professor of Christian Theology and Church History at Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky.
Risky Gospel seeks to take a penetrating look into the lives of young people and help them apply the Gospel to their lives. Dr. Strachan does this by talking through risky faith, identity, spirituality, family, work, church, evangelism, citizenship and failure.
As I read this book what I quickly realized was how radical its message. Not radical in a bad sense but in the best sense of the word. Many Christians today view the Christian life in the wrong way. To them the Christian life is an all-out sprint. They believe that they need to go at it as hard as they can and never relent. Part of that is true and we see the Apostle Paul doing just that but Paul’s service for Christ was informed by his identity in Christ. His identity in Christ propelled forward his labor for Christ. It is in this spirit that Owen wrote Risky Gospel.
The message of Risky Gospel is countercultural. Owen sets forth what I would consider the normal Christian life. By normal I mean a life of steady plotting by the grace of God by being a person who loves the Gospel, loves the Word of God, commits to the local church, works hard to build a lasting legacy for their family, who honors God in the work they do, who speaks out about social and moral issues and who understands the cost of following Jesus in all of life. Furthermore in this work Dr. Strachan sets forth the biblical teaching on the subject of gender roles with men leading their wives and children towards Jesus, even as they live under submission to Jesus, and wives and children following them as they follow Jesus. This idea is not only controversial in the Church it is also controversial in popular culture. Yet it is the Truth, a truth the Apostle Paul teaches in Ephesians 5 where he builds his argument upon the foundation of Genesis 2 where God created man first, took from Adam his rib and gave it to Eve. These ideas are under attack today and what I appreciate is Owen’s clarity, his focus on not on what he thinks about these things but merely elaborating on them unashamedly from a biblical worldview.
One of the things I appreciated the most about this book is Owen’s winsomeness. As I read this book you quickly get the idea of why Owen is writing this book—he really loves Jesus, loves God’s people and loves the Church. These ideas are not inconsequential they resonate with me also as a man who loves Jesus, who loves God’s people and loves the Church. Yet, that kind of faith is often viewed as something only the super-Christian does when in fact it is the normal Christian life—the “old paths” walked by men like John Owen, John Flavel, John Calvin, Augustine, and Charles Spurgeon. Owen’s book makes the call to the normal Christian life as defined by the Reformers and the Puritans a life devoted to Christ, to the Church and to the glory of God. What isn’t risky about that? What isn’t counterintuitive to that kind of life? And furthermore what kind of life can this produce? The kind of life that testifies of Christ, for Christ and to the glory of God—that is the kind of life a love for Jesus, God’s people and the Church produces.
Risky Gospel is a book that honors the God of the Word and who testifies to the work of His redeeming grace. It is a book that will help that will help high school students on up to adults to understand what the normal Christian life is in an age when many Christians live lives disconnected from the Church. Owen’s Risky Gospel is risky indeed—risky because it calls us in the best sense to lean on God in the good and the hard times and to celebrate the work of His grace in all of life. I highly recommend this book and pray the Lord uses it to awaken a generation to the One in Jesus who rules and reigns over His people as their High Priest.
Author: Owen Strachan
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (2013)
I received this for free from Thomas Nelson review program for this review. 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.”