4.5 out of 5 Stars
Author: Bryan Loritts
Publisher: Moody Publisher
Buy A Cross-Shaped Gospel
Reading Level: Easy
The cross-shaped gospel expresses upward faith in God outward toward our neighbor. Basically, it’s an exposition of James 2:17, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Says Bryan,
Oh, but the beauty of the cross-shaped gospel is when both dimensions are lived out through a life that has been justified and growing in Christ-exalting holiness, along with loving and engaging our neighbors and society for the glory of God. Church and life just doesn’t get any better than when we are living the cross-shaped gospel. (p. 10)
Bryan reads the gospels and points out that “Jesus aids the oppressed and afflicted” (p. 20). He argues the gospel has direct physical implications for how we live on this earth.
He makes primary seeking God’s glory (p. 95). He never loses sight of this. But he doesn’t end there. Seeking God in that way will always “totally” revise our relationships (p. 121).
Multiple chapters are dedicated to examine topics which can cause conflict in the church where peoples from different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds mix. I appreciate his honesty in those chapters. Far from pointing fingers and making these issues an us against them, Bryan made it in all of us issue. He points us to the solidarity we share in Jesus Christ. For instance, he describes the anger he harbored after experiencing racism at his Christian college. He describes how that grew into a kind of racism itself (“I’m a recovering racist” p. 59). He also argues against using modifiers like “white Christians” or “black Christians” (pp. 69-70) placing our primary identity in Jesus Christ instead.
I’d like to mention one more thing which got me thinking and which I think is worth mentioning so that you might pick up the book. Bryan argues against racial diversity as a means in itself. Instead he argues we should seek and promote diversity because as Christians worship the same God (p. 67). We were made in his image. We are washed by the same blood. We are all united in the same Christ. That solidarity always produces diversity. This point is crucial so that in seeking racial diversity we don’t pander people or become pragmatic in our methodology.
An excellent book on a topic which won’t be going away. The church must tackel this issue head on with Scripture and the power found in the gospel. Scripture is a gold mine for the issues we face today in the church. The first century church was filled with racial difficulties yet the gospel shined. May it do so for our churches today!