Jesus All About Life by Murray Smith part 2

Part 1

This is not a perfectly structured review, so, as with Part 1, I simply have a string of reflections:

  1. Dave Miers has also just posted a very positive review of this book, if you want another perspective.
  2. The book covers a lot of ground, including a significant amount of apologetic territory and some basic advice on how to pray, read the Bible and choose a church. This makes it a very valuable tool for a range of contexts.
  3. It's not too 'youth'. I could happily give it to someone in their twenties without too many jarring bits.
  4. Prayer is encouraged every step of the way - from general prayers of thanks for the created world to prayers of repentance, to prayers of conversion. This is a nice structure. It does raise the question - Should we encourage people to pray who don't have access to God through Jesus by the Spirit? That's a whole other theological minefield, but I think the answer is yes, even though I don't have the full answer for why!
  5. Murray holds back from a strong presentation of hell. The closest it gets is on page 74:
... From the very beginning, people have turned their backs on God. They've said 'thanks, but no thanks', and have tried to live their own way without him. all of us have done this in different ways. Not even the best of us have lived the life we were made to live. The awful result is that our hearts have become sick, and our relationship with God has been ruined. That's bad news.
He comes close to it when explaining the purpose of Jesus' death (pages 90-94), but even then, we are told that forgiveness is costly and that we are guilty, without being clearly told what the cost of forgiveness/guilt is:

Jesus knew that forgiveness isn't cheap, yet he spent his whole life offering God's forgiveness to others, free of charge. He did that because he knew that he was going to pay the expensive price for the most wonderful free gift ever offered.
.... In Jesus, God reached out to us and dealt with out problem for us. God was willing to give up his own Son to pay the price for everything we have ever done wrong.

We stay in the world of metaphor and the 'price of sin' is never personalised as the personal wrath of a just God.

This could be fine in many contexts. I don't think that every single gospel presentation has to have a complete presentation of the wrath of God in order to be faithful. However, this is a large book, that covers so much ground. And it is being presented as a introduction-to-Christianity manual. I think it is misguided to leave out a clear explanation of the judgment of God.