Richard Stearns is the President of World Vision. When the President of World Vision speaks, people listen. When the same person writes, people read. On our trip to South Africa I saw a man sitting in the middle of the plane on our flight from Paris to Johannesburg and I immediately recognized the book he was reading — because I was also reading it: Richard Stearns, The Hole in Our Gospel: What does God expect of Us? The Answer that Changed my Life and Might Just Change the World
This book belongs in every church library; every pastor needs to read it; and every adult Sunday school class in our country needs to read it and face the facts — and think of how best to respond. That’s my endorsement of this book. (Even though the book could have been shorter.)
Questions for the day: Does the biblical gospel include justice for the world? Or is justice for the world secondary to the gospel? These are the questions we need to discuss. Where do we define the gospel? From Luke 4:18-19 (gospel of kingdom) or from the message of personal salvation in Romans?
And if one thinks the gospel entails justice, how is that gospel to be preached? What does evangelism look like for a gospel without the hole?
This book has four major elements to it:
First, Richard Stearns tells his own story of conversion and, most
importantly for this book, of struggling to accept the Presidency of
World Vision because of what it would do to his successful business
career. His honesty is worthy of emulation, and his story is valued
reading. At one point he has pulled up the sheets of his bed and is
weeping over the call to World Vision.
Second, the thrust of
this book is that the gospel is bigger than personal salvation and
includes global transformation. So, in this sense, Stearns belongs to
the growing number of evangelicals who think the four spiritual laws
approach to the gospel is not enough — he doesn’t think it is wrong,
but he doesn’t think it is enough. He calls the absence of justice
focus the hole in our gospel. Here are his words: “It’s basically the
belief that being a Christian, or follower of Jesus Christ, requires
much more than just having a personal and transforming relationship with God. It also entails a public and transforming relationship with the world” (2). This theme is found on most every page in this book.
this book includes chp after chp of leading his readers to think again
and again about their commitment to global justice, to compassion for
the poor and the needy, and to financial support for the many, many
folks involved in making a difference in the day-to-day lives of
suffering people in the world.
26,500 children die each day of preventable diseases.
this book is filled with compelling stories of folks whose lives are
being transformed by ministries like World Vision — and this book is
much more Stearns’ own story than the story of World Vision. The book
does not come off at all like a plea to participate in World Vision.
Maybe more could have been done in this regard.