Book Review: Messiology

Messiology:  The Mystery Of How God Works Even When It Doesn’t Make Sense To Us, by George Verwer

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

This book is somewhat mistitled.  To be sure, the author presents a mystery, in God’s providential workings through very imperfect human servants, but the book appears more an attempt to justify the author’s own views and ways about evangelism and radical grace than about justifying God’s own behavior.  It may be that as is often the case the author conflates his own views with God’s views, but any reader of this book can get a sense that while the author is well-read and appreciates some books that are very good [1] and very bad [2], the author spends far less time talking about the Bible much less demonstrating a sound exegetical knowledge of scripture than he does writing about his own life and his efforts at proclaiming God and appreciating even those who are deeply flawed servants of God both for their theology (almost invariably Hellenistic Christianity of some fashion) and conduct (including quite a few scandal-ridden ministers and those whose efforts at fundraising even the author finds cringe-worthy).  Whether or not you like this book will depend on whether or not you find the author’s approach winsome, and my view is decidedly mixed on that point.

In this mercifully short book of just over 100 pages, the author writes fifteen chapters that are widely disparate in terms of their tone and approach and often lack a great deal of coherence.  The author begins with a discussion of messiology, punning the look at salvation as well as human messiness (1).  The author then examines such subjects as writings (2), unity in diversity (3), the complexity of communication and human lives (4), mission work (5), and a lament about the dogmatism of the contemporary age in quick succession (6).  After this the author turns his attention to his own awkward personal story (7), the cost of both sin and mistakes (8), the sorts of imperfect leaders God uses (9), and a view of the balance between worship and walking in the Christian life (10).  The author then closes with chapters encouraging leaders to deal with the rough and tumble life as a Christian example in an evil world (11), dispenses advise on how to deal with haters like me (12), proclaims an interest in social action (13), discusses a consistent burden and vision (14), and encourages a development of faith from intellectual knowledge to heartfelt belief to action (15).

Ultimately, I found this book to be a mixed bag.  There were parts of this book I found to be very worthwhile, including the author’s discussion of his work at promoting the anti-abortion writings of Randy Alcorn and Joseph D’Souza’s writings on behalf of Dalit dignity.  There were parts of this book I found to be somewhat embarrassing like the author’s discussion of his own courtship with his wife, and there were some parts of this book that I found to be deeply troubling, such as the author’s blase acceptance of schismatism, his acceptance of ragamuffins who bring dishonor upon the Gospel through their lack of moral progress in attaining righteousness, and his seeming belief that he serves as some kind of spiritual authority on the workings of God’s providential grace.  Had the author been more modest about himself and in closer alignment with the demand of God for holiness on the part of believers, and less smug about his avoidance of Pharisaical approaches, this book would have been a lot more enjoyable to read.  It is unclear what this author was truly intending to do in this book, but fewer attempts to justify himself and a greater willingness to engage with the messiness of God’s providential workings in scripture would have been a good start.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/06/29/book-review-why-pro-life/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/08/07/book-review-the-ragamuffin-gospel/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/07/26/no-ragamuffins-allowed/

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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