4.5 out of 5 Stars
What is The Gospel Go-Ahead?
Publisher: B&H Publishing
Buy: Amazon, CBD, or Monergism
Reading Level: Moderate
Taking Aim at Everyone
Although having some familiarity with Carl Trueman and appreciating his take on the church and culture, I had never read one of his books. Shame on me. Fools Rush In
was delightful and if you read his blog it’s exactly what you might expect a Trueman book to read like. The subtitle to the subtitle sums up the books best Taking Aim at Everyone
. He critiques many of the church’s foibles with a wit and clarity that is rare today. And lest you think he plays favorites, Trueman frequently takes aim at the Reformed crowd as well as broader evangelicals, Catholics, and pop culture. From the forward, Rodney Trotter warns that these essays are “a book without a theme, without a constituency, and thus without a market” (Kindle Location 41 of 2549). There’s some truth because there’s no discernible flow from one chapter to the next and it would be almost impossible to provide a concise summary based on the structure of the book (see table of contents here
). But there are some broader themes which frequently take stage. I will focus the remainder of the review on those.
The knot that kept the rope from slipping was the examination of culture. What was most ironic to me is that it is in vogue in evangelicalism to fancy yourself a student of the culture and to use words like contextualization, etc. And many of the issues addressed within the church by Trueman are a result of poor interpretation of the culture. On the flip side, Trueman as a self-professed middle-aged, balding white male whose culture relevance extends to his fancy for The Who’s is able to see trends in modern American culture and rightly apply the truth of Scripture to these fads. I see two reasons for this success.
First, I have said here multiple times that what the church lacks most of all is pastors, leaders, and people who are familiar with church history and theology. It’s a familiarity with the past that makes picking out the modern knock offs so easy. And this is what Trueman excels at. Last, Trueman handles the Scriptures honestly. For example, if some random guy came up to me and told me, “Your wife wanted me to tell you that for your anniversary she doesn’t want to go see the latest Nicholas Sparks novel turned movie, she wants to spend the night on the couch watching the Celtics match up against the Miami Heat.” I would just laugh. It wouldn’t be credible in the least. So it is with Scripture, when you have soaked yourself in God’s Word and are intimately familiar with him someone telling you, “God just wants to do better and try harder to have your best life now” should just make you laugh.
Eating Irish Babies
Trueman also demonstrates his skill with turning a phrase and poking the sleeping giant in the exact right spot. My copy of Fools Rush In is littered with highlights, scribbles, and notes. He has provided me with verbal cud that I can digest for months to come. I can’t help providing this brief example. I read it. Stopped. Read it again. Then had a good chuckle for a few minutes.
Indeed, I suspect one would have to go back to Jonathan Swift to find a broadly orthodox Protestant churchman who was able to write sustained, elegant prose that still proves capable of provoking laughter. And he wanted to eat Irish babies, didn’t he? Now, I love Irish babies, but I could never eat a whole one. (Kindle Location 1975 of 2549)
If for no other reason, it would do good for most evangelical pastors to read Trueman to develop thick skin. Chances are you will not pass these pages with out having your scab picked off. Trueman argues, and I agree for whatever that’s worth, that developing thicker skin is a positive virtue. Even more so, realizing the difference between a personal attack and an argument against a system of belief will save you a lot of “pain” and “hurt feelings.”
A free copy of this book was provided by P&R Publishing. If you plan on purchasing this book, consider supporting Grace for Sinners by using these links to purchase it from Amazon, CBD, or Monergism.
Mathew Sims is an average Joe who works a 9 to 5 and blogs on the side. He is an editor and writer for Grace for Sinners. He lives in Simpsonville, SC and loves spending time with his two daughters, Claire and Maddy, and wife of seven years, LeAnn. He has a BA in English/Creative Writing and attended Geneva Reformed Seminary for two years completing nearly 40 hours hours of an Mdiv program. He and his family serve and are members at Grace Church. He loves reading, writing, the outdoors, music, cooking, and is an Apple fan boy. You can find him on twitter @GraceforSinners and Facebook. Please email me with any questions or comment below.