This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on March 27th, 2015.
TITLE: Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church (Cultural Renewal)
AUTHOR: Collin Hansen
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2015, (128 pages).
The "Courageous" group is passionate about truth and wants to stand up boldly in defending and proclaiming the truths of the faith. It is about courage to stand up for the truth even when the stand is unpopular. This is necessary for the endurance of the faith. Especially when the world is facing a crisis in Syria and Iraq with ISIS threat. Bold moves and decisions need to be made before more innocent lives are sacrificed. The blind spot for such Christians is the tendency to fear the future and bemoan our present situations. They tend to remember the past so much that they belittle the present and the future. What is necessary is for these Christians to be consistent in their practice of courageous standing, not only for issues of marriage and sexuality, but also for justice, for compassion, against racism, and against war. Hansen believes that courage is more about challenging culture rather than plainly saying no to them. By praying for our enemies, and seeking to reach out in love, we avoid falling into our blind spots. Courage flows from humility and care for humanity.
The "Compassionate" group focuses on social concerns like caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, helping the sick, and all forms of compassionate services. They believe that the way to share the gospel is through the love of God via good deeds. Such compassion flows out of a deep awareness of God forgiving us in mercy and grace. Their blind spot tends to be critical of those not doing enough of what they are doing. They blame others who do not do enough compassionate work. The biggest danger is to craft Jesus into our own image of what compassion really is. However, can we really win the world with this one tool of compassion? Is compassion the way to salvation, or is salvation a result of God's Word in Jesus? Worse, when people compromise principles just to conform to worldly expectations of compassion, it may not reflect the truth of the gospel. Can compassion make right the evils and injustices in this world?
The third group is the "Commissioned" group that believes in renewal and revival of the Church. They equip the flock to do the Great Commission. They disciple and grow the Church's witnesses in many places. They are mission minded and reaches out aggressively to people outside of their four walls. The Church growth movement is one example of such a group. They focus on efforts to resolve dwindling church membership. The blind spot is essentially the expense of the other two perspectives. Hansen believes that theology takes a back seat when the Great Commission matters take center stage. Their efforts make them vulnerable to cultural syncretism as they attempt to be relevant to the cultures they want to venture into. For them, care is cheap and relevance takes center stage.
The key emphasis in this book is to remember that the gospel is all three of the above, plus an experience of God. Groups that are geared strongly toward compassionate need to remember the importance of commission and courage. Groups that lean toward commission must be courageous to stand up for truth where appropriate and to display compassion in their outreach. Groups that are courageously steadfast for the truth must take under their arms the heart of compassion and the commissioning of the Church. It is good to be strong in one of these aspects. However, the fulness of the gospel must be proclaimed. Maybe, the various groups can cross-train one another, or to share resources to enable the gospel to be proclaimed as fully as possible. That is why humility remains key in Christianity. A humility to acknowledge that each of us has our blind spots. The Church we are part of is not perfect. However, together, we can move closer to the fullness that the gospel demands of each of us.
Like the three musketeers' famous maxim, "All for one, and one for all," we can do the same for Jesus. All for Jesus, and Jesus for all. All three aspects of Church for all. One more thing. If readers want a take-away from reading this book, it would be this. Churches need to say to one another: We need your partnership in the gospel.
Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.
This book is provided to me courtesy of Crossway Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.