I’m a book reviewer for Thomas Nelson Publishers. A few weeks ago I received a pre-publication copy of Max Lucado‘s upcoming book “Fearless“. I hate so much about Christian “culture”, especially its commercialism, cheesy cliches, seemingly naive treatment of the fallenness of the world, and an inability to know and apply a deep understanding of the Gospel. For years, admittedly, Lucado has stood in my mind as a representative of much of this. I have, with little engagement with his material (other than his children’s books), tagged him as such a man; and in a certain way, he is the cheesy, cliche-ridden, mass appealing writer I have assumed (as is evidenced by this official site for the book), and the official trailer found below:
Let’s just say it’s been a big change going from Francis Turretin, John Calvin, and Herman Bavinck to Max Lucado in a matter of months. Anyone that knows me knows that it has been a long journey through many frustrations with mainline evangelical culture to teach me how to love the Bride of Christ. And I’m still learning. I have belittled her, talked her down, mocked her, and ridiculed her in the most shameful of ways.
And this book has been a healing process for me. Not giving away too much of my upcoming review when the book’s released, I just want to say that this book is amazing. Save for the first few chapters, I have been shown that even amidst bad jokes, inadequate metaphors, “simple” writing, and an over-commercialized release (including shirts, calendars, mugs, study guides, DVDs, children’s books, teaching curricula), there can be poetry, depth, a real exploration of the human condition, and beautiful articulations and applications of the deepest, most precious truths of the Gospel. Lucado has shocked me. And taught me. And helped me. And stirred me for this God, His Gospel, and all that it supplies us. Though I may be going against the fine print in my publisher’s agreement in doing so, I want to share with you all my favorite few paragraphs from the book so far:
A calmer death would have sufficed. A single drop of blood could have redeemed humankind. Shed his blood, silence his breath, still his pulse, but be quick about it. Plunge a sword into his heart. Take a dagger to his neck. Did the atonement for sin demand six hours of violence?
No, but his triumph over sadism did. Jesus once and for all displayed his authority over savagery. Evil may have her moments, but they will be brief. Satan unleashed his meanest demons on God’s Son. He tortured every nerve ending and inflicted every misery. Yet the master of death could not destroy the Lord of life. Heaven’s best took hell’s worst and turned it into hope.
I pray God spares you such evil. May he grant [you] long life and peaceful passage . . .. But if he doesn’t, if you “have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege if suffering for him” (Phil. 1:29 NLT), remember, God wastes no pain.