Book Review: Onward
“The Collapse of the Bible Belt,” “A New Era of Cultural Engagement,” “No Longer a (Moral) Majority,” “Learning to be Pilgrims (Again)”: These are just a few of the timely topics covered in a fantastic new book by Southern Baptist author and ethicist, Dr. Russell Moore, called Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel.
Published by B&H Books and debuting on August 1, I cannot recommend this book any more highly. This was the best, new non-fiction book I have read in years, and the topic needed to be addressed now more than ever.
With the U.S. Supreme Court’s mandating same-sex marriage in all 50 states, Christians are scrambling. According to Moore, however, this is not a time to scramble. Nor is it a time “to panic or cave in.”
Throughout the book, Moore’s confidence will give you confidence. He does step on toes along the way, challenging our past presuppositions. Moore shows us, painfully, that the Gospel is not here to create Mayberry, if that place ever existed.
It’s not for “God-and-Country,” Boy-Scouts-of-yesteryear way of life we most need. That is not what we are fighting for and hoping for, as Christians. We are striving and praying for something so much worthier than these; namely, the Kingdom of Christ and His righteousness.
Practical in its approach, Dr. Moore’s book will equip pastors and lay people alike with the attitude and resolve they need to share the Gospel in these challenging times. He helps us realize that the Bible Belt has fallen and while that may be bad news for America, it’s good for the Church.
The book is one of the most quotable I have ever read. Consider these gems:
“We must fight for culture, yes, but we should never be such culture warriors we cannot be evangelists first.”
“The hope for the future is churches filled with people who never thought they fit the image of ‘Christian.’”
“The crisis in the American family isn’t downstream from Woodstock or the Pill…but downstream from the wreckage of Eden.”
“A worldly church is no good to the world.”
“A church that loses its distinctiveness is a church that has nothing distinctive with which to engage the culture.”
But catchy phrases and soundbites is not what Dr. Moore is about. He is about challenging our presuppositions to cause us to go deeper with God and go further with the Gospel than we might otherwise.
Today, it is same-sex marriage and threats to religious liberty that are perplexing the church. We will stand faithful at these points, all while we recognize that tomorrow, it may be another social issue that confronts us.
To quote Moore, “the signs of the times tell us we are in for days our parents and grandparents never knew. But that’s no call for panic or surrender or outrage. Jesus is alive. Let’s act like it. Let’s follow him onward to the future.”
To that, and everything Russell Moore penned in Onward, I say a hearty “Amen!”