Finished my third book of the year: God*Stories: Explorations in the Gospel of God by Andrew Wilson.
There are things I liked about this book, and things I didn't like.

Things I liked:
1. Small pieces. Short "chapters." The book is broken into five "acts." The acts are broken into chapters, most about 3-5 pages long. Wilson is making the point that the gospel of God is a beautiful picture made up of lots of pieces (like a mosaic). So if you're looking for a book with lots of stopping points, this is a good one.

2. Great analogies. Each chapter begins with a passage of Scripture followed by an explanation, usually in the form of short histories/backgrounds, personal stories, and/or analogies. Wilson takes Scripture and invites you to consider it in ways that are relevant. Here's an example:
  • Chapter: Everyone Who Calls
  • Scripture: Romans 10:12-13-- "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'"
  • Analogy used: The Jews were like people with breakdown insurance. If you're a member of AAA, you get certain privileges, one of which is the right to be rescued when you get into trouble on the road. Many Jews had a membership (because their parents had it/they were born into it), but didn't call so they were left stranded. Being a member of the group doesn't help if you never call in faith. Faith is what really counts, not membership.

    If you're not a AAA member and find yourself stranded, you can call AAA in faith that you can join the group over the phone and they will save you in your time of need. Simply by calling on their name. Just like the Gentiles. It doesn't matter whether you were born into the group. All that matters is whether you called, in humility and in faith, on the name of the One who is able to rescue you.
3. Simple and straightforward. With the short chapters, Wilson gets straight to the point. The entire book is an exploration of the gospel, of how all the stories in the Bible are pieces that belong together to see the whole picture (mosaic). You definitely walk away from this book with a greater understanding of just how awesome and big our God is.

Things I Didn't Like So Much
1. The title. OK, it's not all about the title. It's the idea of narrative theology that smells a little like Rob Bell (I won't go into this, but I have some issues with Rob Bell). The appendix is "A Word About Postmodernism" which also smells like Bell and raises some red flags for me. Of course it starts out, "This appendix is not for everyone ..." While this book is full of great and insightful words on God's Word, it is important to approach it like a Berean: receiving the message with great eagerness and examining the Scriptures to see if everything that was said was true. (Acts 17:11)

2. Theology. I agree with most of Wilson's theology, but in his chapter, "Repentance and Baptism," Wilson writes, "Scripture suggests that baptism is a part of how we become a Christian, rather than merely an outward demonstration that we already have."

He cites three pieces of Scripture (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21). Frankly, his claims afterward don't seem convincing to me at all (a Southern Baptist who believes salvation comes through faith and repentance). Wilson admits not all Christian traditions believe what he does, and gives the example of the criminal on the cross next to Jesus who was saved without baptism, but Wilson is happy to call him the exception to the rule.

Overall, a pretty good collection of 57 in-depth looks at Scripture. With this book, Wilson is trying to keep people from shrinking the gospel into a story about themselves when really, it's (from the back cover): "about sins forgiven, shame removed, beauty restored, and meaning reinstated. It's about God's kingdom, his mission, his temple, and his victory. It's an epic love story that starts with betrayal and ends with a wedding, but it's also a thriller where the hero fights to save the world against impossible odds. It's massive. It's a sweeping drama of GodStories from start to finish."

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