The Explicit Gospel is vintage Matt Chandler all the way. I really wanted to love this book. It had everything going for it: a dynamic pastor in his debut print offering, a trusted publisher, and the hottest topic in Christian literature right now. Alas, the book I hold in my hands is not the book I had dreamed up in my head, and thus I had to settle for merely liking the book.
Don't get me wrong, this is a good book and worth the price of admission. However (as a subscriber to Matt's sermon podcast for years now) I was hoping that sitting down and writing out his content would force Chandler to reign in some of his rabbit-trails and awkward trains of thought. Unfortunately, this was not the case. And only adding to the confusion, Jared Wilson's name also appears on the cover, but I finished the book still at a loss as to what exactly his contribution was (even after a prolonged search).
But—and this is a huge "but"—if Matt Chandler's clarity in his train of thought suffers at times, his clarity about the gospel stands out all the more starkly. Matt Chandler bleeds the gospel. When he gets excited, he gets excited about the gospel. When Matt Chandler goes off on a rabbit-trail, he rabbit-trails to the gospel. If we must choose to sacrifice clarity regarding something, it is better by far to sacrifice clarity on a train of thought rather than clarity on the gospel. Only one thing is needed. Matt has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from him.
In the end, I am happy to recommend The Explicit Gospel because it has a burning center of gospel heat. While it didn't always suit the tastes of my logical, linear, Enlightenment-addled mind, my heart was inflamed at the beauty and the sufficiency of the gospel. I'm sure Matt would be the first to say along with Paul, "For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not
with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of
its power." If that's not the explicit gospel, I don't know what is.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Recommended for: Pastors, fans of Trevin Wax and Jared C. Wilson
This book was a free review copy provided by Crossway.