Johnnie Moore, vice president of Liberty University, says that the premise of his new book is that “God’s relationship with people is primarily defined as a relationship of grace, and grace should make us better people and make the world a better place.”
In “Dirty God: Jesus in the Trenches,” Moore presents Jesus as the revolutionary friend of sinners who makes the religious establishment furious. Moore, like other writers who are targeting the high school and college ages, even makes Jesus out to be cool and rebellious. And Jesus isn’t the only one who turns cool: even Elijah is “talking smack” before his “cage match” with the Baal worshipers. This style might appeal to teens, but older readers could find phrases such as “Dr. Jesus” irreverent.
Moore, like Bonhoeffer whom he quotes, works to distinguish “cheap grace” from true grace. He reminds readers that God’s plans are higher than ours, and that He isn’t just a kind old man waiting to hand out gifts. Moore’s words on the subject are good, but his cheap grace/costly grace contrast is not on the same level as others who wrote extensively on it (Bonhoeffer and John MacArthur, for instance). The others present it as the ultimate question–the difference between false assurance and true salvation. Moore’s purpose, however, isn’t to question anyone’s salvation, but to encourage all professing Christians to live a life of faith and service.
Moore says that those who get grace should give grace. Christians should show the world that they are different not by being strange, or staging protests, or withdrawing from society, but by showing love through giving and serving. There’s a world full of starving children who need fed, villages that need water, and sick who need care. Those who claim to follow Jesus can’t ignore these people; Jesus didn’t.
Moore’s book is like a shortened version of Rich Stearns’s “The Hole in Our Gospel,” or a softened version of David Platt’s “Radical.” But that doesn’t make the book unnecessary. As long as we care more about ourselves than others, the message is one that needs repeating.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.