Strachan, Owen, Risky Gospel, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2013). 229 pp. $15.99
A few years ago now I was outside working in a horse barn with some friends at camp. As we were working, we were having a conversation about the hot, Christian book of the time, Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. This is not to knock that particular book but the conversation was about risks. In that book, the author speaks of taking risks as part of living a life of manhood. My friend commented, then, with the question of whether it is really a risk if God is ultimately in control. It’s possible that the conversation was essentially about sovereignty but, since then, hearing the word risky coupled with Christianity makes me stop and think about what it means to take risks for God or risks as a believer.
Owen Strachan, assistant professor of Christian Theology and Church History at Boyce College and executive director of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (busy man), addresses the issue head-on, identifying why it is that Christians seem to be fearful, lackadaisical, and weak. There is a plenty of space to address a current conversation on radical Christianity á la David Platt, Anthony Bradley, Matthew Lee Anderson, et al. However, space only permits Owen’s present work.
Identifying a couple of patterns of a defeated Christian life, Owen writes:
- We stop living aggressively for the Lord
- We gradually lose enthusiasm for building godly things
This is a decaf faith (17). Its not that lives are coming to a destructive end but they are positively contributing, “building something big” (17).
The rest of the book, then, features eight “risks” or areas where Christians can take more risks for the sake of the Gospel:
Chapters 1-7 may seem obvious to many but chapter eight on failure is one that we could all afford to examine closer for it is why many of us do not take risks. We are afraid of failure and it is likely where our conversation with Wild at Heart was heading. Can we really fail if God is who He says He is? So, where does our strength to both succeed and fail? Owen identifies three sources of strength – the Trinity:
- The goodness of God (216)
- The power of Christ‘s cross & resurrection (217)
- The Holy Spirit who lives in you (217)
Owen’s book is thoroughly biblical and, I think, the message comes through clearly because of who he is. Often in preaching people identify well with someone’s ethos – character, integrity, behavior, etc. With Owen, the reader is getting someone who is living out a risky gospel and providing influence is several areas of education, ethics, church, and family. Some may take issue with some of his applications involving politics including endorsing Christian candidates (191) and doing what some identify as right wing conservatism. Though, his point is taken. Christians should be involved in many spheres including the public square. Riskiness does not mean lacking in wisdom but it does call for boldness. Those who heed to what Owen has written will be moved to examine their lives and will be stirred to be a joyful participant in gospel living.
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