Dirty God: Jesus In The Trenches, by Johnnie Moore
[Note: This e-book was provided free of charge by BookSneeze. This has not affected my review in any way.]
This is the sort of book that is written by an enthusiastic young believer who is full of zeal but lacking a bit in understanding, whose sincerity is totally evident but whose balance is lacking. Despite the fact that this book tends to show a decided lack of grace towards traditional Christianity and the many people struggling to live righteously, and a lack of understanding of the full standards of holiness that believers are held to, there is much to appreciate in the totally sincere enthusiasm of the author, even if one does not share his optimism. And being the sort of person who prefers to enjoy books and apply such wisdom as they possess rather than find fault in them (which can easily be done), I would like to comment a bit about this book and its worth.
This book is a politically radical (this point needs to be emphasized) and egalitarian and populist defense of a life of grace that focuses love and concern for the poorest off among society both here and abroad in light of the massiveness of the gift of grace that God has freely given us. Though the book fails to appreciate the importance of God’s laws (in particular the Sabbaths), what the book gets right it gets very right. Those readers familiar with my own willingness to speak the truth to power will find the example, along with the awareness of its possible costs, in this very direct and honest work. The author deserves considerable praise for freeing Christianity from the shackles of concern for image and ego and power and for his commitment to bringing grace and love to the lowest of the low, whose problems are often forgotten.
The author, who has extensive international experience, is eloquent and passionate in his discussion of the problems of leprosy, of human slave trafficking, of the evils of sexual immorality resulting from poor self-image, from the problems of self-righteousness and hypocrisy, of starvation due to political anarchy in such places as Somalia, and in the general rise of martyrdom reflected on by other contemporary writers as well . Astute readers of this blog will know that this blog and its author deeply concerned with many of the same evils that the author of this book speaks about so passionately, some of them also from personal observation and experience. The fact that the author, whose work I have been previously unfamiliar with, though we are contemporaries in age, is such a passionate defender of justice and the well-being of those who are marginalized in our present evil world, makes the flaws and shortcomings of his work easier to graciously pardon.
After all, this work has much to commend itself, as it is a passionate defense of God’s grace along with a thoughtful presentation of the Christian responsibility to show that love and grace to others, even if it may be painful and costly to us to do so. The book is no defense of cheap grace, but looks at the most difficult kinds of grace (including the example of the gracious Amish of Nickel Creek, Pennsylvania) in practice, and explores the author’s own shortcomings and realization of his own blessings with self-effacing honesty. The enthusiasm of the author for Christianity as he understands it (which, sadly, does not include a broad enough understanding of how grace has always been the way by which people have entered into a relationship with God) encourages a wise reader that perhaps with time the author will come to a more complete understanding of God’s righteousness, and should lead the reader into an honest reflection of how we show the grace of God in our own dealings with others and in our own passion for justice and the well-being of those who cannot defend themselves. As the book provokes useful and godly self-examination, it is a worthwhile work for Christians of all ages and situations in life as we seek to be an example of our faith. The book is also particularly useful as an honest explanation of how no struggling sinner is too dirty or wicked to be forgiven if they choose to repent and seek after God. Such encouragement is deeply necessary, and a worthy model for us to provide for a deeply broken world starving for love and grace and mercy.