When it comes to the gospel, not everyone is talking about the same thing every time. The gospel, or “good news”, is about the sinfulness of man and the love of God for a fallen world. It is about the sinless Savior Jesus Christ whose atoning death on the cross paid the price in order to buy back a lost humanity. It is about repentance and surrender. There are, however, distortions of that true gospel. Some will teach that Jesus was a good man or good teacher, not God’s Son. Some will teach that only a certain number of people will be saved and that God decides from the beginning who will and who won’t. Some will teach that everyone will be saved in the end. In his new book, which is the second installment of Recovering the Gospel Series, “The Gospel Call and True Conversion”, Paul Washer steps forward to offer a defense for the real gospel against what he sees as an epidemic called “gospel reductionism”. Washer believes that many churches today are settling for and propagating an anemic brand of the gospel. Speaking of many churches today, they “reduce the gospel message to a few creedal statements, teach that conversion is a mere human decision, and pronounce assurance of salvation over anyone who prays the sinner’s prayer”.
Washer, from the beginning, puts forth the results of gospel reductionism, which he also refers to as “easy believism”. These four results serve as the basic premise of the book. First, it “further hardens the heart of the unconverted”. Secondly, it “deforms the church from a spiritual body of regenerated believers into a gathering of carnal men who profess to know God, but by their deeds deny them”. Thirdly, it “reduces evangelism and missions to little more than a humanistic endeavor driven by clever marketing strategies based upon a careful study of the latest trends in culture:. Lastly, it “brings reproach to the name of God”.
Washer’s book breaks down into two parts, as the title suggests. In the first part, the Gospel Call, Washer deals with the elements of this call: repentance, faith, belief, confession, and receiving Christ. He takes the time to give each one an in-depth treatment supported by scripture. He brings the importance and beauty of the original languages to bear on these elements. In the second part, True Conversion, Washer again gives the elements of what marks a true converted heart. He believes a proper and biblical understanding of salvation’s author and motive, cleansing, a new heart, the Spirit’s calling, and God’s covenants with people are necessary to in order to properly understand enjoy the totality of God’s gift; His Son Jesus Christ. Again, an in-depth and thorough treatment of these elements is offered.
“The Gospel Call and True Conversion” is an engaging book. What comes through more than anything else is the author’s sincerity and passion for ensuring that the world hears the true gospel. I liked the biblical exposition and logical flow of the book. I did not like the condescending and arrogant tone the author takes toward churches today. In his attempt to build his case he unknowingly lessens the effectiveness of his writing. The author writes from the reformed point of view. In his tone I see the reverse straw-man argument that some reformed writers put forward. All in all a decent book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from CrossFocused Reviews as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”