The challenges posted towards the exclusivity of the Christian gospel are not a new phenomenon by any means. But as our culture continues to grow post-Christian, the “Coexist” bumper stickers increase, academia starts to muddy the waters and blur the lines between religions, and Christianity in turn starts to sound like “a way” instead of “The Way, the Truth and the Life.” How do we respond? Luckily for us, Unparalleled is a timely book.
If you haven’t read Jared C. Wilson’s books before, here’s what you need to know: you’re going to get the gospel, every time, all the time. It doesn’t matter what subject is being addressed — apologetics, pastoral ministry, biblical studies — it’s all about the gospel. Wilson is the author of acclaimed Gospel Deeps, which I think is a good summary of his writing style.
Chances are, however, that if you’re reading this review, you have read at least one of Wilson’s books. If you fall into this camp, here’s what you need to know about Unparalleled: it is arguably Wilson’s most readable and clear presentation of the core doctrines of the gospel message all tied into one. Wilson is an artist gifted enough to write on many subjects, and in a lot of ways he draws from his other books to help them build his points in Unparalleled. I would go as far as to say that the book itself is unparalleled among Wilson’s others, but it’s too hard to definitively choose one (at least for right now).
What makes this book so strong is that Wilson is not afraid to shy away from tough doctrinal matters, like the Trinity, the Incarnation, and eschatology. Many writers who seek to take on laying out the gospel story want to stick to a “Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration” model while skirting some of the more difficult matters, but Wilson doesn’t. He knows that understanding these topics are critical to the gospel message, and for showing how they make Christianity so gloriously unique. One of my favorite chapters is his chapter on the Trinity, “When 1+1+1 = 1.” One of Wilson’s main points is that the Trinity “is the reason we crave relational intimacy” (61). The community of the Trinity is not only plausible, but it’s the only possible explanation for God given His attributes. Wilson expounds:
Think about it. A solitary god cannot be love. He may learn to love. He may yearn for love. But he cannot in himself be love, because love requires an object. Real love requires relationship. In the doctrine of the Trinity we finally see how love is part of the fabric of creation; it is essential to the eternal, need-nothing Creator. From eternity past, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have been in community, in relationship. They have loved each other. That loving relationship is bound up in the very nature of God himself. If God were not a Trinity but merely a solitary divinity, he could neither be love nor be God! (67)
Wilson not only gets deep into the gospel story, but he also takes on some of the popular arguments against the exclusivity of the gospel. He tackles the notion of Jesus being just a good teacher, the entire subject of Chapter 5. Throughout the book he contrasts the Judaism and Islam conception of God from the Christian conception of God. He even has an incredible chapter on why the doctrine of grace is itself an apologetic (Chapter 8). Wilson’s compelling argument throughout the book is that “Christianity is unparalleled because Jesus Christ is” (229). If Jesus truly did exist, and did the things the Bible says He did, no argument stands a chance in derailing Him.
Whether you’re trying to discern the tangible differences between Christianity and other religions, or want to learn how to better put words to your arguments for many of the central tenants of Christianity, do not hesitate to pick up this book. As Jason Duesing put it best, “As good as Wilson’s books are to date, and they are good, here he is clearly in his writing prime.” I totally agree. Grab a copy of Unparalleled and be marveled at the glory of God’s good news.