Andy Stanley’s Irresistible: Chapters 21-24 Reviewed

As we look at the final section of this book, we see the real heart of why Stanley wanted to write it. He’s noticed something we should all be very concerned about: Christians don’t know what they believe and they don’t know how to share the gospel. Our roots in the West, if we think about Psalm 1, are shallow and far away from the living waters.

It is worth quoting Stanley at length here:

“Everything we’ve discussed so far was written to prepare you for what lies ahead. I’m convinced what follows is extraordinarily important for the church in the West, especially as it relates to reaching the next generation and rereaching the current one. You may find what follows curious or even unnecessary. If you attend a church designed for church people, you may very well be one among those many. If you can’t remember the last time you prayed for someone far from God by name or if you can’t remember the last time you invited an unchurched person to church… and it hasn’t bothered you until I brought it up… you may find what follows strange at best and heretical at worst.” (263)

“We’re to be prepared with a verbal explanation for why we’ve chosen to follow Jesus. And while we make our reasons known, we’re to live in such a way that our behavior underscores rather than undermines our message. There was a time when the Bible says was reason enough. And while it may still be reason enough for you, it’s no reason at all for a significant percentage of the population.” (264)

A Frog in the Kettle

Stanley has hit the nail on the head here in identifying the massive problem facing Christianity in the West. It’s actually been a problem for decades but the slow rise of the secular temperature has left us like a frog in a kettle. Only now, with the heat beginning to sting and boiling bubbles around us have we begun to see how bad the situation is. Christians don’t know how to literally verbalize a response to pluralism, secularism, atheism, the radical Left’s new definitions of gender and marriage, Islam, and the list goes on.

All that I can think of is the classic slogan of the nineties church: “I don’t tell people about Jesus, I show them!” While catchy, and I’m sure the kind of turn of phrase that gets a lot of pats on the back after service, preaching this motto has been revealed as wholly inadequate. The reality of such a statement is that Christians know that defending their faith is hard, it requires study, it requires failure, and it requires actually talking with people who disagree with you. In our flesh we all don’t want to do that, so lets make a version of evangelism that makes it easy. Just live your life and everything with turn out peachy-keen. We wanted Christendom to maintain itself, and now are reaping the consequences.

Instead of identifying the church’s lack of knowledge of our worldview and how to defended it, Stanley points his finger at the Bible as the real problem. It’s not that we have lousy arguments that have not been thought out, but that the Bible is full of lousy arguments that we need to get rid of. This is his new/old apologetic that I’ve already engaged with here: the reason why no one believes the Christian message is because the Bible.

“The foundation of our faith isn’t an eclectic assortment of ancient stories, poems, sermons, prophecies, and letters, written and complied over the course of 3,000 years.’ The foundation of our faith isn’t even an inspired assortment of ancient stories, poems, sermons, prophecies, and letters, written and compiled over the course of 3,000 years.

The foundation of our faith isn’t an assortment of anything.

But the majority of Christians believe it is.

And the majority of post-Christians thought it was.

So they left. (271)

So far, Stanley is has been making this case that it is the OT that needs to be cut away. We now see what he is really saying: the Bible needs to be cut away. This whole secular problem in the church is the Bible’s fault. No real modern person could actually believe it to be true. And because they don’t believe it is true, we should stop using it to win them to Christ.

“Close to half our population doesn’t view the Bible as authoritative either. If we’re trying to reach people with undergraduate degrees or greater, over half our target audience will not be moved by the Bible says, the Bible teaches, God’s Word is clear, or anything along those lines.” (272).

Yes, it’s Heresy

Stanley said at the beginning of the chapter that what he was about to propose would, at worst, be considered heresy. Well, it is heresy. With that said, I think Stanley’s heart is genuine. I think he really does want to reach people. The problem is that the very thing he is claiming is wrong with the church, a lack of understanding of the Bible and apologetics, is the very thing he is suffering from. Stanley is a very famous blind person leading blind people. For all that I’ve worked through trying to refute the terrible arguments in this book, I said from the beginning that the major problem is soteriology. Stanley’s soteriology leads him down the road of throwing away the Bible.

What do I mean?

Stanley believes that in order to save people he must convince them. This assumes that people, within their own power or will, are able to respond to God. They are sinful in Stanely’s estimation, but basically spiritually neutral just waiting for a reason to believe.

This is not the message of the Bible.

Hearts of Stone

From beginning to end, the story of the Bible reveals man’s incredible ability to reject God. The Israelites were privy to amazing miracles that other nations just didn’t get to see. From the plagues of Egypt, to parting the Red Sea, to manna from heaven and water from a rock they should have been so convinced that their God was the true God. Yet only a few weeks after these miracles, they built a golden calf and worshipped it. This is a cycle that plays out over and over again. The whole book of Judges is a story of this cycle. Israel was given a mountain of reasons to believe God, but they rejected him.

The greatest calamity in this cycle was the coming of Jesus. God came in the flesh and he was rejected by the vast majority of the people who saw his miracles. Stanley says earlier in the book that crowds of people loved Jesus and loved following him. This simply is not true. Every time a crowd follows Jesus, every time the “Jesus Movement” starts picking up steam, he turns and says something on purpose that reveals their hardness to him.

Go read John chapter 6. Jesus feeds the multitude and they love him. They begin following him around hoping for another miracle meal. Then Jesus starts talking about how no one will be truly fed unless they eat his flesh and drink his blood. Then he says something even more astonishing and offensive:

So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” – John 6:43-44

No one can come to Jesus, unless he is drawn by the Father. The Jews don’t have within them the ability to take out their heart of stone and receive a heart of flesh. The word drawn here means “to drag.” We don’t come willingly to Jesus on our own. Without that heart transplant, we will refuse Jesus no matter the miracle or the reasoning. The point is driven home at the end of the chapter:

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” – John 6:66-70

Those who heard Jesus’ had words turned away and left him. They didn’t like his biblical arguments. They didn’t like the hard things he was saying because they had hard hearts. Those with hard hearts cannot have saving faith in Christ. It is impossible for a dead man to raise himself. Only the power of God can do that. The only reason Peter has such faith is because he was chosen.

Interestingly we get the other clue to how hearts of stone are removed. Peter says to Jesus that he has the words of eternal life. God’s word has the power bring everlasting life. Paul expands on Jesus’ teaching:

How then shall they call on Him in whole they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heart? And shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tiding of good things!”

That quote there is from Isaiah. The preaching of gospel from all of Scripture is the means by which God saves sinners. It is his word that has the power to take out hearts of stone and gives hearts of flesh. Andy Stanley, by throwing away the Bible, is actually throwing away the very thing that has the power to save. The stone that builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

Stanley’s apologetic may yield short term results but it will end in long term disaster. Will some people be saved because God is gracious? Sure, God can make a straight line with a crooked stick, but how many more will be deceived? Much more. This is a dangerous teaching and we will know it by its fruit.

I have one more post on this book so stay tuned for my final thoughts.

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Andy Stanley’s Irresistible: Chapters 10-12 Reviewed

Let’s pick up were we left off…

I mentioned in my previous post that a good lie has a good deal of truth in it. The core of this combination comes out in the way Stanley uses the words fulfillment and replacement. For him, the Old Testament was fulfilled so that it could be replaced. In this desire to make his apologetic point, he is willing to collapse categories.

So what is true? Jesus is the better Moses. He is the better lamb. He is the better temple, and on and on. Everything in the OT was pointing to Jesus to be fulfilled by Jesus. Yes, Paul, talks about the Law as a taskmaster and the author of Hebrews points to the new and better covenant of Grace. Yes, Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount raised the bar of the OT commands. So much of this is right, but just as you might start to “amen” what Stanley is saying he yanks the rug from under you.

“Believers take their cues from Jesus, not the old covenant. Specifically, we don’t not (yes he uses a double negative here…) commit adultery because the Ten Commandments instruct us not to commit adultery. According to Paul, Jesus followers are dead to the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments have no authority over you. None. To be clear: Thou shalt not obey the Ten Commandments.” (136)

“Hopefully, you won’t run out and commit adultery. Jesus wouldn’t like that.”

Wow. Okay. There are two things for us to get straight here.

1. Ceremonial Law vs Universal Law

One, Jesus fulfilled and abrogated the ceremonial Jewish law. The laws that culturally set Israel apart from the nations are no longer to be kept by Christians. The sacrificial system and its requirements are no longer to be followed (Hebrews). This is the meaning of Peter’s dream in Acts and at the heart of the Jerusalem council. This is why Christians can eat pork and wear mixed fibers in their clothing. What was the greatest symbol of this ceremonial law? Circumcision. It was the defining factor for being Jewish. God was making two people one people (Eph 2:11-22) so there was no longer a need for Jews to be culturally distinct from the gentiles and their was no need for the gentiles to be subjected to the ceremonial law.

On this point, the premise that Stanley is rolling out is correct. The error is that he collapses everything down and throws the baby out with the bathwater. There is another category of the law: the moral universal law. The moral universal laws are those objective truths that transcend all human societies. This is the root of Paul’s argument in Romans 1.

Most notably these are the Ten Commandments. This would also include the moral universals of the Levitical sexual codes. This is revealed in the verdict of the Jerusalem council, “that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.”

At this point, Stanely even concedes that all the best NT scholars disagree with him here.

“This is where I part ways with some of the brightest New Testament scholars of our time. So, you’d probably be better off opting for their answer to this question. These fine folks believe “sexual immorality” is short-hand for the Levitical law regarding sexual conduct. I don’t think so.” (128)

What is his reasoning?

First, it is another jab that you the reader don’t know your Bible well enough to answer.

Second is:

“How likely is it that Gentiles, three hundred miles from Jerusalem, who never owned a copy of the Jewish Scriptures, never read a copy of the Jewish Scriptures, and didn’t grow up having the Jewish Scriptures read to them would know the Levitical prohibitions pertaining to sexual conduct? Is it realistic to think these Gentiles knew the Levitical law so well that the mere mention of “sexual immorality” immediately brought to mind the entire list of prohibitions outlined in Leviticus?” (128)

Here is one of the biggest holes in Stanley’s understanding of early Christianity. He will make this same mistake later on when talking about the Bible. Early Christians had a Bible. It was the Jewish Scriptures. What kinds of sermons where these early pastors preaching? Sermons from the OT. What did Paul do when he got to a new city? Go to the synagogue and preach Christ from the OT.

Surprisingly, unlike our over entertained and memory loss culture, the ancients had many tools to memorize vast quantities of text. Church services were long. Sermons were long. Chanting and catechisms played in throughout the service. Many parts of the Scriptures were put to music. Human beings overall were less distracted then they are now. Knowing, as the persecution began to grow, that your Jewish, OT Bible could be taken from you spurred many early Christian communities to internalize the words by memorization.

It is completely plausible and even probable that at the mere mention of “sexual immorality” to those early Christians in Antioch they would have understood exactly what was meant. They may have just heard a sermon series on it. They could probably quote it to you from memory.

All of the best and brightest scholars are against him on this. They also don’t make his category errors with regard to the universal morality of the law. Yet Stanley plows forward with wanting to get rid of the OT.

2. The Law as a Task Master

Back to what we need to get straight. Second, Stanley fails to grasp the actual problem posed by the OT law. The New Covenant was never about getting everyone out of the Old Covenant. It was about bringing God’s people in. Both Jews and gentiles could not keep the law (Romans 1-3).

God’s law is holy, good, and perfect. The means to have a relationship with God, overtly, was the keeping of the law. This is the paradox of the tabernacle and temple. God wants to dwell amongst his people as he did with Adam and Eve. Heaven and earth have been torn in two because of human sin. So the question is, how can a holy God live with a sinful people. To solve this problem, God gave the law and the sacrificial system as a type of the true solution: Christ. No one was ever able to keep it and by works gain salvation.

As I established in my previous post, even Abraham was not justified by his works but by faith. The same goes for the heroes of the Old Testament. This is the point stressed by the writer of Hebrews in chapter 11: “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them from afar…”. The issue is not as Stanley asserts, that the OT and NT covenants are completely different and incompatible, rather the issue is that no one could ever be justified through the old by works.

When Paul strongly rebukes the Galatians, his rebuke isn’t focused on giving up the old covenant as something to be sliced away, but rather giving up salvation by it.

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. – Galatians 2:15, 16

No one was ever justified by the works of the law. Instead, Jesus, who kept the law perfectly, has become our righteousness. Because we are made perfect by his righteousness, believers have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who causes the law to spring up out of us like a fountain. This is the way it has always been. God has always saved by faith and not by works. Works are the evidence of ones faith not the source of it.

The law used to be a taskmaster over us. No one was able to live up to it. It was written on tablets of stone. When Christ tore the vale in the temple, he was giving access to the fulfillment of the law to all who are united to him by faith. By faith the heart of stone all of us are born with is replaced with a heart of flesh, a heart that beats in obedience of God. This is the law written on tablets of flesh.

This was the problem of the OT: hard hearts. The law was unable to be kept because man’s heart is and idol factory of wickedness (Jeremiah 17:5-9).

Ezekiel specifically mentions this in his prophecy about the new covenant:

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statues and be careful to obey my rules. – Ezekiel 36:25-27

What laws could this prophecy about the New Covenant be referring to? Those universal moral laws. The laws that Jesus summed up by loving God and loving people.

I know that God hates adultery because it is written in his law. I now know what he meant by it because Jesus reveals that even thinking of a woman lustfully is breaking it. I realize then that there is no chance of me ever being able to please God through keeping his law. Therefore, my only hope of salvation is to repent of my sin and cry out for the mercy of Jesus Christ. Only by his mercy is my god-hating heart of stone taken out of me and a god-fearing heart of flesh given to me. If I were to subject myself to the false method of works-based righteous I will die apart from God.  This was the false gospel Paul was referring to in Galatians 1.  A gospel of works righteousness will lead to death.

This isn’t a replacement and throw away of the OT law. This God bringing his people into his covenant by grace instead of works, changing our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh when we believe upon the name of Jesus.

This is not what Andy Stanley is talking about. Again, I could say much more about this but this post is already too long. More to come soon.

Andy Stanley’s Irresistible: Chapters 3-9 Reviewed

Off the Cliff

This is a maddening book. It has been said that the best deceptions are ones that have a good amount of truth mixed in. It may be said of Stanley that best heresies are the ones that have a good amount of sound doctrine mixed in. As I read this book I am constantly fighting with this question: does Stanley know what he is doing? Did Stanley just not pay attention in hermeneutics class when he was at Dallas Theological Seminary? Did he have a poor teacher? Is he only just now realizing what the church has known for centuries: all the narrative of Scripture is a cohesive story that points to Jesus? For as long as he has been in the pulpit, this is a disturbing thought. Not as disturbing though, if he knows what he is doing and is doing it on purpose. I honestly can’t tell so I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

The next section of Stanley’s book is his attempt to walk us through the narrative of Scripture. He counts on the reader knowing very little about the story of the Bible. He regularly reminds us:

“As a child I was told the Bible was God’s Word, that it was all true, and not to set anything on top of it. If you grew up in church, you were probably told something similar. And you believed’em. You believed what they told you about the Bible even though you hadn’t read the Bible. If you’re like most Christians, you still haven’t read the whole thing. Chances are the folks who told you it was all true hadn’t read it all either.” (93)

“I’m guessing when you received your first Bible no one told you any of this.” (102)

These kinds of jabs are sprinkled all throughout book. There is almost a gnostic undertone to how Stanley presents his version of the biblical story: this is what ekklesia, this is what the temple, this is what testament, this what bible, really means. Stanely knows what your pastor has been keeping from you all these years.

Chapters 3-9 have Stanley setting out to give us the real version of the story. The one that no one has told you about. He starts with Abraham and walks through the Old Testament. In this summary he has some interesting commentary:

  • God was fine staying in the tabernacle: Stanley makes a very strange argument that God reluctantly moved into the temple and that he would rather have stayed in the tabernacle. He misses completely the significance of Jerusalem as God’s city (aren’t we waiting for the New Jerusalem?), and I think has a pretty shallow view of God’s sovereignty here. God just gave in? He was just really trying to make his point (or Stanley’s) that this whole Old Testament thing was suppose to be temporary so that it could be cut away. Too bad no one was listening.
  • Ekklesia, the Greek word translated church in our Bibles doesn’t actually mean a building but it means assembly. I’ve been aware of this for most of my mature Christian experience. We get the church is a people and not a building. It isn’t a miss-translation when you realize that a word can have a variance of meaning. Yes, there is another meaning of the word church which refers to a building. Remember that conversation that Stanley had with the little Chinese girl? She, and he, used it that way.
  • Jesus was okay with the Roman Empire: “Roman rule didn’t seem to bother him in the least…” I mean all that stuff in John about how images from Rome are connected with the Beast and Babylon probably doesn’t represent his true feelings, right? Not sure if Stanley is aware of the typology of Babylon as the rebellious anti-God civilization throughout the story of the Bible. Jesus was not impartial towards Rome.
  • Brief overview of Tyndale and the Reformers: An odd example connected with his point on ekklesia. I also get the sense that Stanely, even though he quotes the five Solas, doesn’t understand what they mean. Many of them contradict his thesis, namely Sola Scriptura which is connected to the sister doctrine Tota Scriptura. As in (all) Scripture is the final authority of rule and faith for the church and all of it is necessary to life and godliness. Not to mention his soteriology places him on the wrong side of the Tiber River. Does Stanely understand what the connecting strand is through all of the five Solas? It is God’s sovereign election of the believer. I don’t think he gets that (more on this later).
  • Testament and the concept of Covenant: Stanley gets hung up on these two terms as well. He really emphasizes that no one in American Christianity has taught what these things mean. Not to mention bring up the cutting, separating, and splitting points again here. He questions why the OT has been set along side the NT. He complains, “Why do we give children a copy of. The old covenant bound with the new without teaching them the difference.” I think what Stanley might be beginning to realize is the failure of his style of church. The seeker church model has been about making the barrier to entry as low as possible. This means one would not teach how the OT relates to the NT to children because that would be boring. People don’t come back to a boring church, right?

Much of Stanley’s summary of Scripture is just that, a summary. He often uses his own words to quote Scripture and doesn’t always give full references. There is no real hermeneutical care given to the text. There is very much a, “just trust me on this” way about it. I thought this was the very thing that has gotten the American church off track? Just taking pastors at their word.

It would be much more refreshing and helpful if Stanley taught the tools of how to read the Bible. Teach a man to fish and all.

Fulfillment vs Replacement

All of the digressions aside (there are so many more we could touch on), all of this work that Stanley has been doing is to get to his apologetic point. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament so that means it has been replaced. Follow that thought out one more step: since it has been replaced, we can lovingly, reverently, set it aside.

“Jesus came to fulfill and replace much of what was in place. New things don’t generally bother us until we realize it means letting go of old, comfortable things. This explains why you kept your old couch after you purchased a new one.” (71)

In conflating the two terms, Stanley tips his hand.

Stanley views the testaments as part 1 and part 2. The first part was important, but only as a means to get to the second. Now that we have the second, we should set aside the old. That is not fulfillment. That is replacement.

Contrast with the idea of biblical fulfillment. From the very beginning Father always willed that the Son would die for his people. Genesis 3:15 is the summary verse of the entire Bible, “he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” The OT is the story of how the Father unfolded the mystery of the incarnation of the Son who would defeat the serpent by giving his life. As a master story teller, the Father wove history together bringing many threads to the point of Christ. God is the master of foreshadowing. He is perfect and purposed in his story telling. He doesn’t write bad lines or useless plot points. Everything points to Christ.

Let’s pull on one thread, was it really the blood of animals that took away the sins of Israel? Or was everyone of those sacrifices a picture of what the Lamb would do for his people? Paul is clear:

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” – Romans 4:1-2

Abraham was justified, not by works, but because he believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness all the way back in Genesis. What did he believe in? A gospel that he only saw dimly. A gospel that had not been fully revealed.

Paul drives this point home further:

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he has passed over former sins. – Romans 3:23-25

So the Father applied justification for his people (I mean individual not ethnic) in the OT by faith, looking forward to Jesus who would accomplish this justification by enduring their sin on the cross. Of course, this where the miss on the Solas comes in. By God’s sovereign election of his people.

This isn’t two halves but one whole continuous story. This isn’t old wine skins but a sunrise that gradually grows to noonday. The Lord of the Rings isn’t a better story because you chop off the Fellowship of the Ring! It is a better story because plot threads are pulled to a climax and fulfilled in the ending. Justification by faith alone is a truth taught throughout Scripture and fulfilled in Christ. We would be far worse off as Christians to relegate Genesis to the basement.

There is much more that I need to say on this, for the objection that comes next is: “so you think we should obey the OT law? Should I stop eating pork and go check the composition of clothes?”  I will touch on this in the next post.

Book Review in Three

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Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl by N.D. Wilson

Book Review in Three is my attempt to give a short summary of my thoughts on a book I’ve finished.  The goal is a reading time no longer than three minutes.  By nature, these won’t be exhaustive reviews and often I may link to others who have gone more in-depth for deeper analysis when needed.

This is not the first book I’ve read by Wilson. His book Death By Living was my introduction to his seemingly haphazard writing style. Needless to say I loved that book. Wilson was able to express thoughts I’ve struggled to articulate for a long time. He is able to weave together the seemingly random and mundane with the utterly brain spinning power of God’s sovereignty (only like a good Calvinist could).

While Death dealt with biblical concept that to live really means to die to ourselves, Notes tackles the problem of evil.

The problem of evil is usually the first place a secular/atheist/westerner unbeliever goes.

“If God is good, then why is there evil?”

Any Christian worth their salt needs to have an apologetic toolbox that deals with such objections. Unfortunately, while often logically sound and passionately fought for, such answers on this topic can ring hollow. They usually lack skin in the game. Evil can become academic too quickly. A pastoral 101 no-no would be to try to open said apologetic toolbox at a funeral.

This is where Wilson hits it out of the park. He has the apologetic chops. He knows Hume and Niche, but he answers them incarnationaly.

Life isn’t a lab experiment. It is a story. God is writing the greatest story ever, with billions of plot lines all woven together.

But to an infinite artist, a Creator in love with His craft, there is no unimportant corner, there is no thrown-away image, no tattered thread in the novel left untied.

The problem of evil is ultimately soul crushing if man is at the center of the answer. If we reason up to God from our fallen and haughty position we end up despising God for the story he has written. We shake our fists and say, “How could you let this happen!” It’s as if we expect God to be running our script when it is actually the other way around.

Do you dislike your role in the story, your place in the shadow? What complaints do we have that the hobbits could not have heaved at Tolkien? You have been born into a narrative, you have been given freedom. Act, and act well until you reach the final scene.

It’s not our story. God is not following our script. We are in his story and he has written every drop of it. Every crazy subatomic particle is obeying Him right now. Every solar flair and black hole is acting their parts. It is only us, made is his image who sought to grab the pen for ourselves, who fret and are angered by the beauty of the Author’s narrative. This is what Wilson draws out so well. He reminds us of how utterly small we are while how gracious the Story Teller is.

For ultimately God was not satisfied just to write us our parts, but he wrote himself into his story.

He exists on two planes. He sees the story as He tells it, while He weaves it, shapes it, and sings it. And He stepped inside it.

Christ came as the author in order to die for his people. He bore the evil that they allowed into His perfect world. He drank every drop of the righteous wrath that evil deserved. Then he put evil, sin, and death in the grave when he walked out of the tomb. It was always the point of the story.

Wilson’s book is one of the best I’ve read on this subject. He as able to stretch our narrow gaze to see how much bigger this whole thing is.

I highly recommend it.

ND.