In June B&H began The Gospel for Life Series, edited by Russell Moore and Andrew Walker, which connects the gospel message with everyday life issues. Both Moore and Walker serve at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention and, Moore especially, have written and spoken extensively on gospel responses to the ethical issues Christian’s face.
The books are structured around answering five questions: What are we for?, What does the gospel say?, How should the Christian live?, How should the church engage?, What does the culture say? For example, in answering What are we for?, the authors all begin in Genesis with creation. This starting point intentionally grounds all discussion within the framework of creation which is the beginning of the biblical story line of creation, fall, redemption, and re-creation/consummation. This creation starting point helps us to see God’s intention within these various issues and in turn helps us to see what has gone wrong with them as a result of the fall. Some readers will be challenged by the creational foundations of religious liberty presented by Andrew Walker in the book on The Gospel & Religious Liberty. This was a new concept for me and something I will continue to think about.
Another helpful aspect of this series is how it frames the Christians response within the community of the Church. So, it is not enough for the individual Christian to be equipped to respond to the culture but it is the collective witness of the whole Church, the bride of Christ, that should speak loudly to these issues with the truth of the gospel. For example, when it comes to racial reconciliation, the Church needs to have the conversation about it, yes, even all white churches, because, as Trillia Newbell writes in The Gospel & Racial Reconciliation, “The problem is, race continues to be talked about because there continue to be problems. And there continue to be problems because often conversations about race revolve around racism. And these conversations centered on racism happen because people are racist. So, until we see an and to racism, both personal and systemic, we will need to continue this conversation.” (49)
One final helpful aspect of this series is its interaction with the current cultural opinion on these issues. After all, if everyone were living according to God’s plan as outlined in Scripture then there wouldn’t be a reason for these books to exist. For example, in The Gospel and Same-Sex Marriage, Al Mohler Jr. briefly outlines four cultural changes in regards to sexual ethics that paved the way for same-sex marriage: birth control and contraception, divorce, advanced reproductive technologies, and sex outside of marriage. Mohler’s words are biting:
The marriage crisis is a moral crisis. It did not start with same-sex marriage, nor will it end there. This has all been made possible by a deliberate breakdown in the moral immune system of human society. Western civilization has forfeited its immunity against the breakdown of marriage, the family, and the integrity of human sexuality. We sowed the seeds of the current confusion. To make matters indefinitely worse, the failure of Christian churches to address these issues with the full weight of Christian conviction has created, in the eyes of many, an insurmountable challenge to evangelical credibility on the issue of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Today’s movement toward the total acceptance of homosexual behavior and relationships was only made possible because some heterosexuals first did their best to undermine marriage. (95-96).
The Gospel for Life Series is the perfect primer on a number of current cultural issues that Christians needs to be aware of and ready to give a Christian gospel-informed answer to. The contributors are theologians, cultural experts, and local church servants. We cannot hide our heads in the sand or just let other Christians deal with it. If you are going to obey the command to love your neighbor as yourself then you must be equipped to discuss these important issues. The witness of Christ and His church are at stake.
You can learn more about this series from their website www.thegospelforlifeseries.com. Other forthcoming books in the series include:
The Gospel & Abortion (January 2017)
The Gospel & Adoption (January 2017)
The Gospel & Marriage (January 2017)
The Gospel & Parenting (January 2017)
The Gospel & Parenting (April 2017)
The Gospel & Pornography (April 2017)
The Gospel & Work (April 2017)
I received these books for free from B&H for this review. 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”