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9th February
2011
written by Alden

I’m serious—some people will absolutely hate this book.

When Ken began preaching the sermon series that inspired The Gospel Uncensored, word spread. Soon, there were beaten-down and abused people everywhere. We had perhaps the most messed-up church in town, but only because that’s the kind of people the Gospel draws.

Many pastors hated it, because the Gospel is by nature subversive. Man-made constructs are no match for real truth—which is why many churches avoid the Gospel like the plague, opting instead for a sin-management approach. Pastors also hate to lose members; when people discover they’ve been abused or manipulated (or simply led astray), they either cause a bit stink, or they leave. Either way, it’s not good for church business.

The book should have the same effect.

 

Who will love this book

“A man must completely despair of himself in order to become fit to obtain the grace of Christ.” ~Martin Luther

The “messed-up” people of the world—those who know they are failures, who know they can’t measure up to any kind of religious standards—love the Gospel. It is music to their ears, and food for their souls. It was the ragamuffins who followed Jesus and clung to his every word. Peter put it this way: “Where else would we go? Only you have the words of life.”

It is for these people—among whom I count myself—this book was written. We not only love this gospel, we need it, desperately.

 

Who will hate the book

However, those who think they can work to achieve some measure of spiritual success—or even to earn their salvation—will hate the book. The gospel pulls the rug out from under their ability to achieve anything on their own.

Religion, as we have been told, is a crutch. In reality, religion is not a crutch, it is, if you will, a purported “stairway to heaven.” It is the Gospel that is a crutch. Seriously. To admit that you need grace is to admit that you are a cripple, unable to walk on your own. People will either embrace and lean on the crutch, or hate it.

 

Who else will hate the book

Many pastors and leaders will also hate this book, because it pulls the rug out from under their sin-management control structures. It is impossible to control grace. Grace is messy. Sins that are hidden by sin-management techniques become suddenly visible. And, perhaps what’s worse is that without the sin-management structures in place, we have to trust God. And, if a pastor or leader is honest, they will tell you that trusting God is often a terrifying proposition. As C.S. Lewis put it, “Aslan is not a tame lion.”

 

The others

I will also acknowledge that there are those who simply disagree with our exegesis, and I’m okay with that. Paul pointed out that we will have disagreements, and that through disagreements the truth is made clear (1 Cor. 11:19). As the book itself discusses, Paul contended with Peter over the “grace vs works” issue, and Paul prevailed. It seems to me that Paul is so clear in his explanation of the gospel in Galatians that I fail to see how anyone could get a different meaning from it, but people apparently do.

So, I have to admit that I could be wrong on some points, though I don’t think I am. As Martin Luther also said,

I shall never be a heretic; I may err in dispute, but I do not wish to decide anything finally; on the other hand, I am not bound by the opinions of men.

I am as certain about the Gospel as I can be.

 

Hot or cold

I have said half-jokingly that the best advertising I could get is for some famous pastor to absolutely hate the book. To me, the wort possible thing would be for people to find the book boring or inconsequential. As Jesus put it, “I”d rather have you cold or hot.” If someone could read the book and go, “so what?”, then I would feel like we haven’t stated the Gospel clearly enough.

So far, the people I’ve heard from all love the book. However, as odd as this sounds, I’d love to hear that it’s hated as well, just so I know that we’ve done our job.

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