Book Review: Count To One

Count To One:  God’s Plan For Christian Unity, by Bishop Robert (Robert J. Gosselin, Ph. D)

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by BookCrash.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

In reading this book, I admit myself to be an outsider to the discussion that the author has in mind.  This book is a clarion call for ecumenical unity among believers who share a commitment to the Trinity and to the Nicene Creed, neither of which I hold to [1].  The author seeks, through sheer goodwill and efforts among leaders, to forge a unity among Hellenistic Christians of sacramental, evangelical, and charismatic traditions, and the author shows himself rather broad-minded enough to be able to accept Messianic Jews, so long as they are of the Trinitarian variety (something which is common enough).  Coming from the perspective of an outsider, it is quite entertaining to see the tension the author feels between his desire for a broad ecumenical unity and his desire not to be seen as viewing other believers as heretics while simultaneously drawing a harsh line on those he labels as dualists and as heretics in addition for denying the unbiblical doctrine of the immortal soul.  The author’s tension reflects the fact that Hellenistic Christianity has always, at least on a subconscious level, recognized the fact that it followed the traditions of man rather than the commandments of God, something this author struggles valiantly not to admit.

The contents of this book are of great interest, and this book was worthwhile to read as a statement of aspiration and as at least a working plan by which it could work in building ecumenical unity among leaders while people themselves go about worshiping as they do, only with a greater sense of belonging to a larger whole than perhaps at present.  After a long train of endorsements for the book, the core material contains about 200 pages worth of material about the groundwork for the ecumenical approach the author takes, reflections on Christian unity, a lament about division among brethren, the defining process of who is counted as part of the Body of Christ, what it means to be in Christ, a discussion of the shared traditions among Hellenistic Christians, a discussion of what unity is not in uniformity and unification, the efforts believers should take for the sake of the Glory of God, how to deal with nonessential differences, what path forward exists for those interested in the ecumenical movement, and how to deal with issues of discipline for sin (often of a sexual nature).  After this the author includes questions for individual and group study and reflection along with a conclusion of how the reader can be sure that they really know Jesus, an altar call of sorts, as well as a section about the author.  Throughout the book the author includes his own life history and his own complicated path towards an appreciation of all of the branches of Hellenistic Christianity, and how that contributed to the strength of his own ecumenical position.

Despite the fact that I consider myself an outsider to the particular worldview of the author, and cognizant of the fact that he would likely not consider me a brother in Christ bur rather as some sort of either misguided and dangerous heretic, this book is of interest on at least two grounds.  On one level, I find the author’s approach to be a likely one for the fulfillment of certain Bible prophecies that indicate a unity among Hellenistic Christians and their hostility to biblical Christians.  The author himself appears to recognize the force of such accusations in his strenuous denial that the ecumenical movement is doing the work of Satan, arguing speciously that Satan’s way would be by coercion, and ignorant the smoother and more subtle ways of deception that are also a part of the devil’s playbook.  On a more noble level, I see the author’s approach towards agreement on essentials and acceptance of diversity and variety on nonessentials to be a worthwhile approach for my own religious tradition, which is afflicted by its own lamentable schismatic tendencies, which I lament no less sincerely than the author for their tendency against Christian love and the unity we have as children of God whether we realize it and act on it or not.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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