My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The social skyline looks to be changing, increasingly showing angry streaks and looming storms ahead, and churches in the United States will be forced to deal with the shifting climate. The best way forward is to band together preparing for the long, blustery days ahead. But how can we pull it together, given the multiplicity of approaches to “doing church” in the wide religious marketplace? Colin Hansen, editorial director of The Gospel Coalition and author of “Young, Restless, and Reformed,” has sketched out an approach in his just-off-the-press 128 page paperback, “Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church”. This short piece is easy, and quick to read, with the chapters following the three categories in the title.
After an affirming foreword by Tim Keller, the author addresses the “hazardous climate and perpetual outrage” (25) growing in our society, and that we Evangelicals “need a new narrative to understand our debates in the church and engagement with the world” (31). Hansen then explains that American Evangelicalism’s narrative has normally broken out into three separate, distinct story lines; the courageous, the compassionate, and the commissioned; and that going down any of these plot lines breeds a myopic perspective, what he calls “blind spots” (36). The remedy, according to the author, is to see all three together as the “bigger picture,” like a triangle that “represents the heart, the head,” and “the hands of Jesus” (Ibid.). The next three chapters take each side of the triangle, with its relevant blind spots, and looks them over carefully, asking probing questions and challenging self-satisfied assumptions. The final chapter will demonstrate how all three sides of the triangle can, and should work together, even in individual congregations.
“Blind Spots” describes the present Evangelical scene in a very simple fashion. A reader will likely cheer and pump their fist in the air over some of the descriptions and their attendant blind spots, and then shake their heads in disbelief and shout “No! You just don’t understand” when the author addresses their favorite side of the triangle. But Hansen’s searching question asked early on resonates throughout the book as he scrutinizes each side of the triangle, “Can you love a fellow Christian who sins differently than you do” (29)? If you take the time to mull over the author’s accounts and ponder his points, you will likely be answering that question on your knees. Therefore with the voice St. Augustine once said he heard, I add mine; tolle lege, tolle lege.
Many thanks to Crossway for the free copy of the book used for this review.
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