Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Gospel According to Jesus by Chris Seay

I was really excited to read this book because a book by the same title changed my life (you can find my review of it HERE). Even in that excitement, it has taken me forever to get through it. That is not necessarily because it is a hard read, but because of events in my life over the past couple months have been chaotic. Yet, even with a crazy life, if this book had been really good, I would have made the time to read it.

Chris Seay's version of The Gospel According to Jesus was simply confusing to say the least. Most of the book seemed to hold to a form of orthodoxy. He believes in Jesus alone for salvation (of which I was thankful). He talked about sin. He talked about the need for salvation. He made many great statements, with which I would fully agree. For instance, he says,

"But make  no mistake; a social gospel is no gospel at all. There can be no kingdom with the King!" (23)

"You can't say to Jesus, 'Hey Jesus, you and I have this great intimate personal relationship, but I am just not into your people.'" (27)

"Following Jesus our King cannot be boiled down to some religious rituals where we come, sit, sing some songs, throw a few dollars in the offering plate, and leave professing a Christian life. We cannot be Sunday Christians. If that's what you are doing, just stop." (29)

"Idolatry changes our hearts long before it affects our actions." (109)

Good statements, yet there was something in this book that just seemed to sit wrong with me all the way through it. His main premise is that having faith in Jesus restores all things to what they were meant to be. And that restoration is centered in God's righteousness. He says,

"God's righteousness is powerful and multifaceted. We will spend much of this book exploring the fullness of its meaning. But we also know what his righteousness is not: a morality that can be attained by the works of man. The best simple translation of the word righteousness is 'restorative justice' . . . Seeking his righteousness is about being an active agent for his restorative justice in all of creation" (12).

I just don't get it. God's righteousness is defined as restorative justice. I have read this entire book and I still can't wrap my mind around that concept. He actually says later in the book that he defines the doctrine of justification this way: "God's restorative justice" (134). It was here that I started to see the problem with his thinking. He says that the purpose of justification in our life is God making things right. Agreed, but then his illustrations are all about the poor, the oppressed, the sick, and the hurting who are not being taken care of by the church.

I believe he blurs the line between justification and sanctification and in so doing, he has failed to accurately define justification, which is the hallmark of biblical Christianity. He never fully defines the gospel (even in the chapter on the gospel). He uses covert terms like Shalom & Justice. While there are many helpful parts of this book, I think it will bring about confusion more than it will help. If you must read a book by this title, please pick the other book linked above!

Oh, and far and away the most difficult part of this book was the Bible version that he uses. He used a unique translation called The Voice (I hate to even call it a translation, but probably a very bad paraphrase). Honestly, I just didn't get it. I could give several examples of how bad it is, but honestly, I think I would just get upset and I really don't want to confuse you any more. Just avoid this version.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

1 comment:

  1. Good post. I agree. Not that I am a MacArthurite, but certainly the Seay book is just too confusing. The simple Gospel is found in verses like John 3:16, 1 Peter 3:18, or 1 Cor. 13:4-5. It isn't that complex, and it focuses on the atoning work of Christ on and off the Cross for our sins. If the Gospel has wrought in you a change in life, then you will do good works for the King and His Kingdom (Eph 2:10). KISS (Keep It Simple Seay).

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