Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Tilting Truth

A recently released book by Dan Phillips explores how the gospel turned the first-century world upside -down (Acts 17: 6) and how modern evangelicalism too often constructs barriers against its having the same effect today. The World-Tilting Gospel, published by Kregel Publications, is what Phillips refers to as a "whole-Bible" approach to the gospel, beginning not in John 3: 16 (as important as this verse is) but in Genesis 1: 1.

If you've ever visited Phillips' blog or the Pyromaniacs blog where he is one of the team-bloggers, then you probably already know he is an excellent wordsmith with a technical scribal talent that enables the reader to glide through his prose with remarkable facility. In The World-Tilting Gospel, he combines his considerable skill in the mechanics of the written word with a propensity for direct and unambiguous communication, tosses in the occasional proverb and the intermittent dash of wry humor, and sets forth his case for a whole-Bible, world-tilting worldview.

The book has more theology than you likely realize while you're reading it, even a few brief word-studies in Hebrew and Greek, and is instructive, doctrinal, evangelical, exhortative. It ministers to the curious seeker, the new convert, and the mature believer alike. It makes you a little uncomfortable. Sometimes a lot uncomfortable. Lots of the teaching comes straight at you but some of it has a little more nuance (he gets some predestination and unconditional election in there without being overt about it. He even makes a brief but compelling argument that regeneration precedes faith). It is a book that can be handed out as a tool for evangelism or taught chapter-by-chapter in a Bible Study group.

He starts with a definition of who man is and who God is. He exegetes from the first three chapters of Genesis with some insights from this text that you may not have considered before. He defines sin, and expounds on the doctrine of original sin. He sets forth a very complete Christology and detailed straightforward teaching on substitutionary atonement. He explains imputed forensic righteousness and salvation by grace alone through faith alone. He does these things in understandable language, and many readers probably won't realize how much doctrine and theology they're actually getting. He discusses sanctification, and deals effectively with three widespread errors in the Christian growth paradigm-- categories which he labels "Gutless Gracers" (easy-believism), "Crisis Upgraders"("carnal" vs. "spiritual" Christians) and "Muzzy Mysticism" (Inward rest/victorious walk). He provides one of the better definitions of the "flesh" I recall seeing, even in more formal works.

He talks about Gospel obedience, and exhorts the believer to "get on with" living and telling it. He doesn't attempt to finesse or sidestep on key doctrinal issues, and this will no doubt disturb the postmodern crowd. He takes a world-tilting approach to a world-tilting subject.


Robert said...

I'm reading through the book myself and agree with what you've said here. I really hope that this book finds its way out into the hands of people caught up in the pop culture church movement and helps to show how the Bible should tilt their worldview.

mike said...

Yes, I think it would be great if some of those who think being "missional" means acting like the world could read the book and become convinced that their worldview needs some tilting.

herewegoagain said...

Too bad I couldn't find it at the local "Christian Book Store" and had to go to Amazon. (The local store was too busy with cute books on everything but theology...oh, and jewelry).