May 6, 2013

New Book Review - "A Cross Shaped Gospel"

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Bryan Loritts speak at the Advance13 conference. I left his message challenged deeply to see on a deeper level how gospel reconciliation should also lead more to racial reconciliation.  Bryan leads Fellowship Memphis, which is a multiethnic congregation in the racially divided city of Memphis.  This is a church that has found ways to bridge the racial divide in the deep South.  They have also committed to making a major difference in the city of Memphis for Christ.

A Cross Shaped Gospel is a timely and well presented read.  Bryan Loritts shows a profound understanding of the gospel for his age. He is the son of a very faithful pastor and has served in many capacities across a spectrum of churches.  The premise of this book is that the center of the gospel is the cross of Jesus Christ. In it's horizontal dimension, the gospel reconciles us to God. But in it's vertical dimension, the cross also calls us to reconciliation with our "neighbor", whether they be of a different race, political persuasion, or socio-economic status.  Bryan calls all believers to start with the gospel and then allow the implications of the gospel to lead them as they live in harmony with their fellow man.  Bryan's chapter on "Donkeys and Elephants" is spot on and has much to say to both sides of the political divide.  Also, his chapter on race reconcilation, "The Gospel and O.J. Simpson" shows the maturation of someone who has been affected by racial discrimination, but has learned that in Christ, "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)

This book is a very important book for all in the church to wrestle with. The issues Bryan Loritts addresses have long been buried in the church as we rest in a gospel that gets me to heaven but doesn't call me to cross the street or to the other side of the tracks.  The issues that divide us personally are more of the reason we are losing credibility with the culture than the issues that divide us theologically.  If Loritts is right, we cannot give an accurate gospel without stressing both the horizontal and the vertical implications.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Moody Pressroom bloggers 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.