Thursday, February 8, 2018

Today's Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic? - A Review


I am always looking for good resources on the gospel. I've read many books on the topic. I can recommend only a few.

A trusted friend and dedicated follower of Christ recently gave me a copy of Walter Chantry's little book Today's Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic? which I had the good pleasure of reading this week.

Greatest Strength

This book is short. Less than one hundred pages. Just by looking at it I would have assumed that it would be unlikely to pack much of a punch.

I was wrong.

In most cases, a short book on the gospel will be disappointingly shallow. For many studies on a massive topic, brevity is their greatest weakness. For this particular book, I believe the length is perhaps its greatest asset.

Chantry ably outlines the problems of modern gospel preaching and evangelism. Although "modern" to him meant in the late 1960's and early 1970's, the problems he outlines are still running wild today.

Each problem is diagnosed scripturally and the biblical remedy is presented. It is not enough simply to point out problems with no path forward. Chantry not only exposes and rebukes error but exhorts in right doctrine and practice.

While I personally would have enjoyed more discussion in each chapter, the short length left me hungry to both read the Scriptures more and to boldly and compassionately go into all the world and proclaim the glorious truth of the gospel to every creature.

Greatest Weakness

The major thrust of the book I thought was excellent. It edifies, encourages, rebukes, and admonishes. As far as the main content and purpose is concerned I don't have any substantive critique.

My only real issue is in the way Chantry discusses evangelists. On the one hand, Chantry is dealing with a system of doing church that makes use of travelling teachers who preach revival-style messages and travel from local church to local church. When critiquing the message and methods of such ministries his terminology is certainly appropriate. That's what his culture (and ours, too) calls evangelists.

Yet, Chantry also uses the term "evangelist" to refer simply to the Christian who is proclaiming the gospel. Although it may be unnoticeable to some, those familiar with the purpose for this blog will understand why such usage distracts me a little bit.

Had Chantry substituted the term "ambassadors for Christ" or simply "Christians" in his descriptions for those sharing the gospel I would have had very little problem. Likewise, I would personally go a step further to say that the travelling revivalist preacher model so common today is not what the Bible calls "evangelists." That shouldn't be surprising to anyone who knows me, seeing as I have written a book on that very topic.

Since the purpose of Chantry's book is not to define the nature and role of evangelists but the content and method of preaching the gospel, admittedly this critique is a bit nit-picky.

Conclusion

This is a book I highly recommend every Christian to read. It is even more important for preachers and teachers who are tasked with equipping others to faithfully bring our Lord's gospel to the world in His name and power.

The book itself is inexpensive to purchase and will not cost much time to read, either. A worthy investment of time and resources.

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