Matt Chandler and Jared C. Wilson. The Explicit Gospel. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012. 240 pp. $11.18.
Matt Chandler’s The Explicit Gospel is a sweet look at the good news of Jesus Christ from more than one angle. Chandler challenges his readers to look at the gospel from both an individual (what he calls on the ground) and global (what he calls in the air) perspective.
The strength of this book is in the gospel content. Chandler uses both a “God, Man, Christ, Response” model of explaining the gospel as well as a “Creation, Fall, Reconciliation, Consummation” model. It is a good thing for believers to see the gospel from these two angles, the former pointing to the theology of individual redemption and the latter pointing to the ultimate story of God’s plan for the world. In both explanations, Chandler communicates the truth of scripture with clarity and refreshing sweetness.
Chandler also wisely points out many common weaknesses in our gospel understanding. He shows us how, if we focus too strongly on the individual or global perspectives, we will pervert our understanding of the gospel. He also challenges his readers not to give into our common temptation to believe a grace-based gospel but to live as though our salvation were works-based.
I found two areas that made this book less than perfect in my view. First and foremost is Chandler’s dealing with the issue of creation at the beginning of part 2 of this work. Chandler claims to hold to “historic creationism,” a position which allows for a great passage of time in the opening phrase of Genesis 1:1. This position is Chandler’s way of believing in a literal 6-day creation, while allowing room for an old-earth view. I believe the author’s position here to be incorrect and to open the door to theological errors that are more significant. I might not give this problem a full paragraph did Chandler not spend so much time in his book defending his view.
Another much smaller problem that I had with the book was an occasional earthiness to Chandler’s language that seems out-of-place. The example that comes to my mind is in the look at the life of Job. Chandler uses a line I have heard other preachers use to describe God’s confrontation of Job, telling Job that he needs to “put on a cup” to face what is coming. This is not by any means a wrong thing to say, but it does take the conversation to a slightly more crass level than some might appreciate.
Much is very right with The Explicit Gospel. For a more mature Christian who is willing to think critically about the arguments raised in this book, especially that regarding creation, the book is a solid reminder of important truth. The challenge to see the gospel from a ground-level and an aerial view is quite valuable. However, even though I was blessed and encouraged by Chandler’s writing, I would only recommend this book with reservations, as the issue with the creation argument is, in my view, significant.
I received an audio copy of this book to review as part of the reviewers program at ChristianAudio.com. The book is very well-read and pleasant to hear.