Thursday, September 15, 2011
I recently received a book titled Seeking Asylum in the Savior: The Road to the Cross is not a Cul-De-Sac from its author Steven Clark Goad. I want to begin this brief review by thanking Steven for his kindness for the book and also thank him for helping us to reflect on our Lord in a powerful way.
Seeking Asylum is a work of devotion in more ways than one. The work is devoted to helping Christians focus on Jesus in a more concentrated way and it is also attempting to help disciples become imitators of the one they confess. Steven is a great word smith and he paints some really moving pictures through the book.
Seeking Asylum is divided up into eight chapters: Our Awesome Savior; The Savior Who Blesses; The Savior Who Understands; The Savior Who Weeps; The Savior Who Creates; The Savior Who Smiles; The Savior Who Frowns; and The Savior Who Gives & Forgives. Each of these chapters is made up of short essays that sort of touch on the main theme in that chapter. If you are familiar with Jim McGuiggan's Jesus, Hero of My Soul the pattern is similar.
Some of the images are captivating, Steven has a spiritual gift for story-telling. I love verbal portrait of "my Lord with sawdust in his hair and calluses on his hands" (p. 22). Or picture of getting over our narcissism in "The Church of Goad" (pp. 124-126). Or evangelism as "one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread" (p. 186). Another short chapter that I have already referred to my classes is "What Kind of Church Is This, Anyway?" One of my favs in the book "Is it Ok to Ask Why" (pp. 96-99) is one every parent, Sunday school teacher and preacher needs to drink deeply from ... the Bible is literally filled with the question of "why." Steven is writing healthy stuff here.
I had only one "footnote" I added to the book and it came near the beginning. In an outstanding chapter, "The Power of the Resurrection" (pp. 30-32). Steven writes, "The power of the resurrection testifies that souls are saved!" For the record I am with Steven in calling attention to the fact that the resurrection of Jesus is absolutely central and needs more and more and more emphasis. We need to talk about the resurrection on more than Easter. Yet "salvation" is so often understood in Evangelical circles in terms that flirt with either neo-gnostic or platonic understandings. The resurrection of Jesus is promise from God that my own body will be saved not simply my soul. Paul speaks of "the redemption of our bodies" not the salvation of our souls in a Platonic sense (Romans 8.9-30, esp. v.23) The resurrection of Jesus is God's promise that he has not abandoned creation. Now Steven does not deny any of that. He statement just participates in a way of talking that encourages Christians to believe all that matters to God is something we cannot see ... and of course I know Steven does not believe that.
Overall I think Seeking Asylum in the Savior is a book that can help us do just that. Its memorable pictures and humorous way of commenting on the Christian life will help us steer clear of any journey stopping cul-de-sacs. I suggest the best way to encounter this book is not to simply read it all the way through in one setting. Rather I recommend reading one chapter a day with a friend or spouse and mull over the story. I believe by the end you will indeed find yourself finding a safe place with Jesus on the grand adventure we call discipleship ...