Book Review: Gospel Formed

Gospel Formed: Living A Grace-Addicted, Truth-Filled, Jesus-Exalting Life, by J.A. Medders

[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours in exchange for an honest book review.]

There is a lot to like about this book. The author is unquestionably passionate about the Gospel, insofar as it relates to the person of Jesus Christ. The book is easily accessible, the author manages to praise all parts of the Bible and avoid the more usual Marcionite heresies that pit some parts of the Bible against others [1], and it is filled with references to hymns as well as much more profound thinkers about the Bible like C.S. Lewis (among others). The book’s highest form of praise for someone is Gospel-centered, a word that pops up frequently as a term of approbation to describe one person or another whom the author wishes to commend. There is much to appreciate in terms of an encouragement to follow the implications of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God as they are expressed through scripture and in a godly community of believers in all aspects of life, and to live with the knowledge in the heart as well as in the head of God’s ways.

In terms of organization, this book is divided into five sections. The first chapter, “The Main Thing,” looking at the Gospel and Jesus Christ, is by far the longest chapter, as part of “The Gospel Staring Block.” Part two examines elements of Gospel worship, including joy, the problem of idolatry, eating and drinking, and worship as warfare. Part three looks at our identity as the adopted children of God and how that identity overwhelms our past identity as sinners. Part four looks at the Gospel community, and how being believers means we are a part of the body of Christ and not spiritual lone rangers as people often are tempted to be (especially in the West). Finally, the fifth part of the book looks at an evangelical focus of the Gospel mission that in the eyes of the author belongs to all believers, regardless of title, in whatever place they happen to be and whatever way best allows them to spread the good news of the kingdom of heaven.

That said, there is much to critique in this book as well. The author continually harps on everything as being “Gospel-Centered” that he supports, even matters (like the Trinity) that are not. His approach is a bit superficial, lacking the depth of knowledge to ground his zealous and enthusiastic claims, and also lacking the profound obedience to God’s ways to really link the entire Bible to the message of the Kingdom of God. Additionally, by failing to completely understand the Family of God, and the aspect of the Kingdom of God that consists not only in saving mankind from sin but also in turning flesh and blood into the very children of the Most High. As is the case with other books [2], the author’s acceptance of an unbiblical closed Godhead presents him from seeing the true glory of God’s plan, and causes him to shrink the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to a smaller and lesser Gospel of Jesus Christ as a person, which it must be admitted is still a vastly wider Gospel message than most people have in mainstream Christianity today, especially in the United States. A reader would be advised to take encouragement from this book, to cheer it on where it deserves cheer, but to understand that there must be a great deal of discernment in weighing this book’s content and approach against that in scripture, especially where it comes to the author’s pet ideas about the importance of catechisms.

[1] In this, his approach is similar, though much less comprehensive, to this book:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/book-review-totus-christus-a-biblical-theology-of-the-whole-christ/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/book-review-the-family-project/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Book Reviews, Christianity, Church of God and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Book Review: Gospel Formed

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Believe: Student Edition | Edge Induced Cohesion

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