This is a question the church is asking.
One the one hand, the book could have descended into a debate on theological definitions about the gospel in personal evangelism. For example,
- What are the basic theological elements required to communicate a complete gospel?
- What is a proper order to explain the gospel to someone?
- If an element is missing in your explanation, does a is the work of conversion incomplete?
In fact, this is what I was expecting in A Cross-Shaped Gospel: Reconciling Heaven and Earth since I’ve been reading a series of books that look at this (for example: Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope)
Rather, Lorttis looks at the implications of living a gospel centered life.
- What areas of our life does the gospel touch?
- What are the implications of the gospel upon our personal growth, church growth, and community service?
The jacket sums it up well:
He explores what the gospel means for issues of race relations, political engagement, and class distinctions. A Cross-Shaped Gospel is a great look at how to biblically live out the whole gospel on earth by following the greatest heavenly commandments of loving God, and loving your neighbor.
The book uses the imagery of the cross beams take a hard look at the horizontal and vertical implications of living out a gospel centered life.
One chapter that caught my attention was Chapter 5, an in depth look at the impact of the gospel on economic and social class. He writes:
“Is there a place for going down to the rescue mission and feeding the hungry Absolutely. Is it wrong to do the annual Thanksgiving food drive? Not at all. But if that is all we are doing,and we are not creating an environment where the gospel is nudging people to get out of a “help” mentality and calling people to see everyone — including the poor — as their neighbors, they we are in danger of deepening the walls of class division.” (p. 95)
Every church involved in its community needs to wrestle with this question.
- Do we simply “help” or do we actually partner?
- Do we patronize by accident by our attempts at compassion?
- Are we spinning our wheels accomplishing little, or making a deep impact of transformation?
Untouched by the gospel
I recently participated in a community service project where a wealthy group sent volunteers to paint a room in a underprivliged community. (Read the linked in discussion for more details)
I was recruited to participate by a friend.
Local community members were not allowed to participate, and the wealthy group painted it’s logo on the wall as a display of their “pride” in service to the local community.
This is wrong.
The gospel was not demonstrated.
The wealthy group is missing this transformative aspect of the gospel that Lottis highlights. They have been untouched by the gospel.
If we are living out the gospel, we will do our community service differently. The gospel impacts how we see people.
The planned release date is October 1. The publisher provided me an advance copy for review.
Order your copy of A Cross-Shaped Gospel: Reconciling Heaven and Earth from Amazon (Affiliate Link)