Review in a sentence:
Excellent audio on a book which talks about what the Gospel has to do with individuals, the cosmos and lots of rabbit trails and an Acts 29 ministry apologetic.
For a good overview of the book see here.
The audio book was read by David Cochran Heath who always does excellent readings.
I have very mixed emotions on this book. Overall it is a very good and very helpful, and I think it has a good gospel presentation for the “over-churched”, meaning it is good for those who grew up in churches where the gospel was just not explicit, at best it was assumed. We know this is an epidemic in our day (especially here in the Bible Belt, which is also Chandler’s context) so it could be helpful for many.
I haven’t heard Chandler’s preaching for more than 5 years ago, but the book was full of the same jokes, his style of humor and all of the emphasis he makes (which are mostly directed at inoculated life-time church goers who don’t have a clue what the gospel is.) Honestly, you could listen to a few of his sermons and you’d get it. It was full of languge like “dude”, “he was like”, “you trackin’ with me?”, just like his sermons. This was good in one sense because he is an excellent communicator, but it also meant it had one of his downfalls,… rabbit trails. Lots and lots of rabbit trails in this book.
Do you really need to spend so much time on being a “science agnostic”? Or your different view of the time period of Genesis 1:1-2? Age of the earth? More time spent on the life of Solomon than the life of Jesus? Didn’t seem like those long discussions needed to place in an “Explicit Gospel”? It honestly made a lot of parts confusing and some rabbit trails were so long I forgot what the chapter was about.
Theologically I thought the book was excellent, spot on, until we got to chapter seven. At that point there was so much “Missional” stuff, so much! But I can understand his emphasis on it since he believes it is an integral part to the gospel, however I found his justification for it to be lacking. Actually, a lot of the explanations of the book were lacking because he tried to hit (in my opinion) way too many topics, that he never got to go too deep into many. And most were issues that are current (which is fine, but I don’t see this book being using in 30 years. Or, if it is then alot of rabbit trails won’t make any sense.)
Back on the “missional” topic, when he is explaining the “missional mindset” he says:
"the explicit gospel transforms how we perceive the mission of the church… the great commission joins us to God’s mission to restore all things."
He then had a long explanation of “incarnational” mission, as opposed to other ways of evangelism and discipleship. The book has a lot of this explanation about two ways and how they aren’t the best but his 3rd way is just right. A lot of it! Parts like this was like reading the Acts 29 handbook.
“When the gospel takes hold it turns a Christian outward, which means it turns the church outward.”
Confusion of the mission of the church and the mission of a Christian, they are not one and the same.
“…When Jesus says, ‘I am going to build the church and the gates of Hell won’t prevail against it’, we are being told that evangelism, discipleship, justice, social aid, the engaging of God’s people with his plan to renew creation, all of that and more, done in the power of the gospel, slam into the gates of Hell.”
Then he claims the church of Ephasis is rebuked and threatened for “losing their missional edge.”
Overall the message of the gospel was good, but the missional application was bad. The book tries to address over-churches, but also it seems like pastors, and then people who have no idea about Christianity. Trying to hit all those targets wasn’t effective and I think would make the book confusing to a lot of people.
On a book that makes the gospel explicit I would suggest Greg Gilbert’s “What is the Gospel?” (much shorter and to the point)
For issues dealing with “Missional” and Chandler’s (and Acts 29) ecclesiology (doctrine of the church) I would suggest Kevin DeYoung’s & Greg Gilbert’s book "What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom and the Great Commission".
For issues dealing with the “over-churched” I’d suggest "Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church" by Michael Horton.
If you are already a Chandler fan or a Acts 29’r then you have already heard the content of this book.