During a mission trip to inner-city Kansas City I found myself sharing the gospel with a homeless man. As his alcohol-laced breath washed over me I began wondering if this man was actually a believer. He was speaking as if he understood fundamental elements of who God is, that he understood the effects of the Cross, he seemed to understand and be convinced of the sinfulness of mankind.
Just as I was beginning to encourage myself that this man was a believer he took a really strange detour. The next thing I knew we were talking about Moses being an alien and a whole host of other weird things. What had originally sounded like an understanding of the gospel was everything but. He was using the same terms as me but meant something entirely different by them. Apparently “salvation” to him was rescue from our secret Martian overlords.
I wish I were joking about this story. I feel bad for this man that probably has a mental order but is left untreated on the streets of Kansas City. I pray, as I did then, that the Lord will rescue this man in his wilderness. I also wish that this story were not so common. People may not think that “salvation” equals rescue from Martian overlords but they might as well.
Dan Phillips believes that what is taking place is that:
“our culture’s mindset is (at best) ignorant and (at worst) diametrically opposed to the background meaning and worldview that make [biblical] words have any saving import…we use the words, and the worldling filters those words and nods—and nothing redemptive has occurred”. (305)
Because of this deficit Phillips has written The World-Tilting Gospel. His central aim in this book is to give a “whole-biblical worldview that assigns specific meaning to the words that expresses the gospel” (306). Phillips does not quite follow the God, Man, Christ, Response narrative but it is close. He begins with who we are—or maybe who God is—or maybe who we are. From here he looks at the Fall and the pitiable state of our condition. He then moves on to discuss the accomplishment of Christ and then in part three he looks at two truths that allow us to “get in”. The fourth part of the book—which is six chapters long—is dedicated to the living out of the Christian life.
Throughout each of these chapters Phillips writes with the fervor and passionate dedication to God and the Scriptures that readers of Team Pyro and his own blog Biblical Christianity have come to expect. His writing is engaging, challenging, and clear-cut. He makes a compelling case for our need to believe again the powerful World-Tilting Gospel and forsake shallow replacements.
As I read through this book I couldn’t help but think that I would love to get this book in the hands of many within our church. Even at points when Phillips engages in often difficult areas of doctrine he writes with clarity and a biblical focus. Though they would be greatly challenged, I do not think any member of our congregation would be lost in “big theology words” or anything of the sort.
Going through first three sections I kept telling myself I want to give this book to a few people. Then I started reading the fourth section. As I made my way through this section on Christian living my attitude changed. Now, rather than saying it’d be nice to give this book to a few people I kept thinking I MUST get this book in the hands of many people in our church. Phillips’ dealing with the misguided mindsets of Christian living is worth the price of the book. He puts his finger on a crippling aspect of much evangelicalism, he rips it open with biblical truth, and applies the powerful gospel.
Should You Buy It?
Even if you are a pastor or student, like me, that reads through tons of books on theology you will gain much from this book. Through most of the book there was not a ton of new information but it was applied and written in such a way that it helped make biblical concepts crystal clear and memorable. Phillips says things in ways that I found myself wanting to emulate as I preach through certain sections of Scripture and on certain points of theology. Great writers do this, and Phillips is a great writer.