What are people for?
That is the question Bruce Ashford and Heath Thomas set out to answer in their book, The Gospel of Our King.
This book is another example of contemporary authors attempting to present the biblical storyline in a way that is fresh, innovative, and inspires appropriate action in response. Thomas and Ashford do quite well in their attempt.
Books like The Gospel of Our King are part of an effort to counteract the dominance of the metanarratives of our culture. In the West we are taught that the world exists to meet our demands and serve our presence. We custom order t-shirts to bear our favorite messages, choose the facts we will be subjected to, and select every expression of our identities. This is the story of our world. But the contemporary story is a damaging one, because it drives us away from the truer, better story of Scripture. Unlike to world’s story, God’s story, as laid out in the Bible, is life giving and conforms with reality.
The book begins by outlining the grand story of Scripture in four movements. The first four chapters of the volume outline creation, fall, redemption, and restoration, respectively. These four movement describe the arc of God’s work from the beginning of time into the future. Having offered this summary of the movements within Scripture, Ashford and Thomas turn to providing definitions for commonly misused terms, which are essential to this discussion. Chapter Five defines worldview, gospel, and mission. The final four chapters look at how a gospel-formed mission, built on a Christian worldview, works itself out in theological, social, cultural and global dimensions. None of these four terms will surprise anyone who grew up in a sound, biblical church oriented toward getting the good news of Christ’s resurrection out to the world. However, the authors put some meat on the terms by arguing that the mission of God must remain grounded in sound doctrine, expressed to people in real, often practical terms, brought to bear in culturally specific ways, across the globe to people of every tribe, tongue and nation.
The Gospel of Our King affirms the reality that we were not made for ourselves, but to serve the King of the Universe.
I have read dozens of books on worldview, the gospel, and mission. I found The Gospel of Our King to be a refreshing presentation of this topic. This is a book that I am glad to recommend. Above all, this is a volume that helped to remind me of the central purpose of the Christian life: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
The book is written at a very accessible level. Even though it is published by Baker Academic, this is a volume that would be helpful in a high school class or a discipleship class with believers seeking to go beyond the most basic outlines of Christian doctrine. This will also be a helpful tool for more academic settings, like an undergraduate or seminary classroom.
Perhaps more significant than its helpfulness as a teaching tool, The Gospel of Our King is encouragement even those who already know the story well. I read this in a day (in part because I read it on an airplane travel day), but I found it a balm to the soul, an exhortation to live more faithfully, and an inspiration to tell others about the gospel of our King.
NOTE: I have worked with both of the authors of this book, but I enjoyed it and think it is good, so I am reviewing it.