The Hole in Our Gospel: Faith... or works?

Yup, we've got a book review for today. Because I recall in a previous post that I mentioned trying to do a book review once a month aaaaannnddddd it's the 21st. So I figured I better get one out. xP

summary 


WHAT DOES GOD EXPECT OF US?

Image result for the hole in our gospelIs our faith just about going to church, studying the Bible and avoiding the most serious sins--or does God expect more?

Have we embraced the whole gospel or a gospel with a hole in it?

Ten years ago, Rich Stearns came face-to-face with that question as he sat in a mud hut in Rakai, Uganda, listening to the heartbreaking story of an orphaned child. Stearns' journey there took much more than a long flight to Africa. It took answering God's call on his life, a call that tore him out of his corner office at one of America's most prestigious corporations--to walk with the poorest of the poor in our world.

"The Hole in Our Gospel" is the compelling true story of a corporate CEO who setaside worldly success for something far more significant, and discovered the full power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to change his own life. He uses his journey to demonstrate how the gospel--the whole gospel--was always meant to be a world changing social revolution, a revolution that begins with us.



my review 
Image result for two stars

While I would probably agree with the main points being made about Christians needing to help the poor and such, there was still a lot in this that I wouldn't necessarily agree with. Not the least of which, is the whole concept of a 'hole' in our gospel. 

Because here's the gospel I know: Jesus died on the cross so that those who believe on His name can be forgiven of their sins. I'm not seeing any holes there. It's a beautiful, perfect plan of God and there's nothing missing from that. God's way of salvation involves belief. It's not a matter of anything you do other than believing in the name of Christ to save you. 

That's where this book gets a little tricky. While the author doesn't explicitly state that the works are absolutely necessary for salvation, and while I don't think he would hold to that view himself (although not sure on that honestly), the book definitely walks a fine line in dealing with salvation, faith, and works. I felt like it should have been more outspoken in the fact that salvation is by faith alone. Good works are definitely going to be a part of any Christian's life, because we should be striving to be more and more like Jesus. But the point is: the good works are a result of the faith, and the result of Christ working in you and through you. They have absolutely nothing to do with your salvation. Here's just one confusing quote taken from the book. 

(this is after citing James 2:14-19) 

"Here James stated in black and white that belief is not enough. It must be accompanied by faith demonstrated by actions."

And then on the next page over, after citing 1 John 3:16-20, we get this: 

"The conclusion is inescapable. Jesus asks much more of us than just believing the right things." 

I'm honestly just plain not sure what the author meant by these and other statements like them. Was he trying to make a point that you're only truly saved if you're showing fruit, or was he advocating faith+works? The whole concept of how one is saved was super vague throughout the whole book, the focus being placed almost entirely on what one should be doing to 'advance the kingdom.' (Which is another whole matter in and of itself.) Primarily helping the poor in third world countries and donating money and such. Which brings up another issue I had. 

The focus was entirely on other nations, and I felt like it ignored the fact that there are suffering people everywhere. We see suffering around us all the time, and being a light to the world doesn't necessarily entail starting a nonprofit organization to help supply clean water to developing nations. (no matter how beneficial such an action would be.)

Now, I understand that the author is big on missions, but for a book of this length, I think a chapter about the suffering people around us right here in America would have helped keep things in perspective. You can make a difference wherever God has placed you right here, right now

But the author does get credit for being an amazing writer, so there's that. :)



How about you guys? What have you been reading? ALSO ALSO ALSO ALSOOOOOO GUESS WHO'S ON GOODREADS NOW? ;) (Nope wrong, not me.) 

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Kay fine I confess, it was me. XD BUT I LOVE IT. So yeah if you're on there and I haven't already stalked you (which, let's be real, that's not likely xP) you can stalk me here.

~Jonathan 

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19 comments:

  1. Okay, I haven't read this book, but your review is spot-on. THANK YOU for this. I totally agree with the point that while works are obviously "good", they're not what saves us (I mean, if they were, then why would Jesus have come at all?), and that we don't need to cross the seven seas (or however many, honestly) to spread the Gospel or help others in their suffering.
    Missions trips are great and all, but we can't neglect the fact that we can bring people to Christ RIGHT HERE and NOW and WITHOUT A LOT OF MONEY. xD

    Man, I don't know if this was the point, but your review made me really not want to read the book...haha! Awesome job, my friend. You analyzed it fabulously. :D

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    1. AW WELL THANKS. :D Glad you thought it was accurate! :P Yes, exactly, the works are a result of our faith and they don't save us. (yup yup spot on) YES EXACTLYYYY there's tons of people right here that we can be a light to, and that wasn't really addressed in the book at all. I mean I don't mean to undermine the importance of missionarie AT ALL (Heck my Dad was an MK) I'm just trying to point out that foreign nations aren't the only ones who need Jesus.

      WELL THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE COMMENT IT MADE ME HAPPY. :D

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  2. Interesting...He sounds like he's almost saying that faith isn't enough...
    Though works are good, they aren't what gives you your salvation.
    Also, what is this GOODREADS? I'm always hearing about it, but don't exactly know what it is.
    Good review BTW. :)

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    1. Yes he walks a very fine line, at some points seeming to say that but at other points seeming like he says it is enough? It's kinda confusing. xP
      Yup, exactly. :D
      Ooh okay so Goodreads is basically social media but all about BOOKS. Now, if your family is more strict about social media (which mine is so I totally get it) I will emphasize that the 'social' aspect is very undermined. Basically the only reason it's 'social media' is because you have friends. But you don't 'post' things. You basically just see what your friends are reading and what they want to read, and then you can mark books that you want to read. And you can get recommendations from your friends and from Goodreads and stuff. So yeah, it's pretty cool. :D

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    2. Yes, confusing describes it pretty well. ;)
      Oh, that sounds like an interesting site! Thanks for the info! :D

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  3. Amen, preach it!!
    I will admit, I cringed a little when I saw the book title... But you handled it very well, and I agree with what you said. :)

    stillnotongoodreadssohanostalkingmethere :P

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    1. Haha well thanks! :D
      Yeah honestly I didn't cringe when I first picked it up, believe it or not. :P But now that I've read it the fact that it claims there's a 'hole' in the gospel does make me cringe a little. :P Thanks!

      hawellicanstalkyouontheforumsothat'seven XP

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  4. Oh, I just read this review and couldn't help but think of our conversation last night. This wouldn't have happened to have been inspired by me, would it? :P

    I have to say, I'm a little interested in reading it, I'm mean he went to Uganda! I MUST KNOW MORE! I'd love to read about another person's experience there.

    Yes, you do have a point in saying that there is suffering everywhere, but I don't think it's totally valid to condemn him on choosing to focus on Uganda/Other Countries. I mean, from personal experience, this stuff really sticks with you and changes how you think and see the world.

    I can't get a drink of water anymore, without remembering the students I stayed with. They'd only get two cups of water a day and this was one of the most prestigious schools in the entire area. People from neighboring countries would send their kids there. Just looking around, there's is nothing but abject poverty everywhere. Grown men would get on their knees begging us for money. That's something that you can't forget.

    I feel in America, we don't struggle with physical poverty as much as with a spiritual poverty, such as depression, despair, or addictions. It's always a good thing to help your fellow neighbor in need, but we shouldn't criticize those who choose to dedicate their lives in service to struggling, impoverished countries. Both are equally vital to spreading God's mercy and love. Some of us have been blessed with the financial ability to change entire lives of many people in foreign countries, while others might be more gifted with understanding, kindness, and wisdom that would be unimaginably life changing for those struggling with despair.

    We can't help everyone, rather we do the best we can with the opportunities and talents that have been given to us.

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    1. Hehe well maybe a little. ;) I confess, guilty as charged. XP

      Well in all honesty you would probably like it. *nod* So I say go for it. XD

      Well I didn't mean to /condemn/ him. XP I was just pointing out that he seems to place too much of an emphasis on it, and he seems to ignore the fact that suffering is everywhere. Sure, I get that missions is important, but the fact of the matter is that not everyone is necessarily called to missions in other areas of the world.

      That's great, Thomas! Obviously God has given you a heart for missions and maybe that's something that He has for your future. :D But my point remains: God isn't calling all of us to missions in third world countries. We can choose to make a difference and be a light right where we are. :D

      Hmm okay well I would agree with that! However, I will point out that I wasn't 'criticizing those who choose to dedicate their lives in service to struggling, impoverished countries.' In fact, my Dad was an MK, and I think my grandparents even now fit into that category of people. I was just trying to point out that placing too much of an emphasis on foreign countries can be discouraging to people who aren't being called to third world countries, because then maybe they feel like they're not doing 'great things for God.'

      'Oh, your plans for life /only/ include raising up a family to love and honor God and be a light to a lost world?' << That's the mentality you get from that.

      But yeah. Anyways. Thanks for the (v long XP) comment! :)

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  5. This is an awesome review, I'm super glad to have read your thoughts. I totally agree with everything you said, I've found some of the same things when reading other books advocating for Christians to do more good works. Although that is extremely important, it had nothing to do with gaining faith. I find people often get confused between the two.

    Yesss goodreads is the best, I've been obsessed with it for years. I'm super excited you got one!! For internet friends to stalk.

    Elizabeth

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    1. Well thanks Elizabeth! Glad you agree! :D Hm *nods* Yes very true, I've found the same thing.

      I've only been on it for like a month and I looooooove it. XD

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  6. Hmm...that's definitely a book I'll steer clear of. ;) Salvation is by faith alone. I do believe that we should perform 'good works', that being whatever God calls us to do, but that's not where our salvation comes from. And....now I sound like Dad. :P Great review, Jonathan!

    (Heh. I've already been stalked on GR. XD)

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    1. Yup. *nods* I agree with you compleeetteeelyyy. Thanks! Glad you liked it! :D

      (Ha yes you have. *insert ninja face*)

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  7. Though our works don't do anything in our salvation, they do show that we're saved. Nobody is going to believe us if we tell them we're saved when we don't act like Christ (both in the negative or positive direction). I'm not saying that I disagree with you (maybe you were trying to say this even) just I felt something was lacking. Also, humanitarian acts are not the major "good works" we should be doing. We should be telling others about Jesus. Humanitarianism is good but it only lasts for this life so it should serve the purpose of showing God's love not just in simple meeting people's needs.
    I started Goodreads about a month ago. I'll start stalking.

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    1. Hmm yes I would agree with that. *nods* Although the author never really made that distinction, if you know what I mean. :D I mostly just felt like the book needed much less general vague-ness.
      Ooh cool! :)

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  8. I definately agree. Though I am curious, do you believe that all you have to do is say a prayer, and even if you turn your back on God, you are still going to heaven?

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    1. I would say that yes, you can't lose your salvation. As long as that prayer was sincere and repentant. :D However, I would submit that I think most Christians who are truly saved won't turn their backs on God.

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  9. Great post Jonathan! I like that you use logic to explain your rating. I agree that in Christianity, sometimes we put too much emphasis on going to other countries, and doing the "good things" that we choose to call the most "Christian". God want's us to be a light to unbelievers wherever we are. You have a strong faith Jonathan! ~Emmaly

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    1. Well thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I completely agree! :D

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