Gospel Regeneration is part story, part doctrine, and part practical Christian living. The story binds all these elements together. Alex Dean shares his personal to journey of faith without pulling punches about his own shortcomings, idols, and sins. He sang in a rock band before coming to Christ and desired the spotlight. He says,
And though the landscape was breathtaking, the thing I loved most about any of these tours was this: every single night, I was in the spotlight. All of this really describes my desire to fulfill the deepest longings of my moralistic heart—my own recognition and glory within the world of this for that. Because I loved the glory I received from the spotlight, I craved it all the more. No amount of recognition was every enough. There were no small victories to be had because my longing for glory was a far deeper thirst than what trivial recognition could satisfy. (99)
There’s an abundance of these kind of journey to faith stories by young millennials. In my estimation, the category is worn out. However, what’s fresh in Dean’s Gospel Regeneration is a heavy dose of rich theology and a focus not on himself (even though it’s his story). It’s a story about God tracking him down more than anything.
You also get a taste of Keller and Piper in the book. There’s a chapter on joy with strong influence from Piper’s theology and moralism (an emphasis through out) recalls some of Keller’s winsomeness. Moralism looms large in Dean’s story. He grew up in the church and so was a traditional moralist growing up and became a more progressive moralist during his young adult years. He offers a helpful distinction between the old and new moralisms, while also showing at their heart they’re both transactional.
Part two builds on the doctrine of regeneration by discussing the depths of the gospel (the Holy Ghost, justification, adoption, and joy) and the ultimate chapters explore sanctification. There’s some helpful instruction especially on our new life in Christ in that latter section. For instance, Dean says:
The prerequisite for being new life is that you must die. You must come to the end of yourself and be utterly desperate, utterly needy, bleeding, bruised, and broken. This must happen before you truly understand new life in Christ (118)
and “In the end, we are awakened by God so that we can grow in the Christian life” (142). Gospel Regeneration closes with a helpful dose of hope for our future life with Christ in the new heaven and new earth.
Gospel Regeneration would be a helpful resource for teenagers and young adults alike. There’s an honesty and experience in Dean’s story that would resonate—and rich doctrine focused on the work of God in the life of sinners. That’s a healthy balance.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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.”
Mathew B. Sims is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and writes for CBMW Manual, Gospel-Centered Discipleship, Borrowed Light, and other publications. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and offers freelance editing and book formatting services. He is a member at Downtown Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC.