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Friday, December 21, 2012

"Faithmapping: A Gospel Atlas For Your Spiritual Journey" (Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper)

TITLE: Faithmapping: A Gospel Atlas for Your Spiritual Journey
AUTHOR: Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013, (240 pages).

What is the big picture of the grand gospel? Essentially, it is one gospel manifested in three aspects, of the Cross of Christ, of the Sonship of Jesus, and of the Kingdom of God. This is also called the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Cross, and Grace. The Gospel of the Kingdom is the announcement of the reign of Christ in our hearts and minds. The Gospel of the Cross is the entire story of Jesus's life, death, and resurrection that offers salvation for the world and reconciliation with God. The Gospel of Grace reminds us that we cannot save ourselves. It is all grace. These three aspects held together, will counter the individualism, the phariseeism, the materialism, and the deceptive isms of this age. Using Tim Keller, John Ortberg, and Dallas Willard's spiritual teachings, faithmapping is about mapping our faith on the whole gospel, not just a part of it. It transforms us from the inside out when it answers the "Who am I" question. It pinpoints where we are.  It gives us an impetus to begin living as kingdom people. Our spiritual journey is essentially finding our identity and our positioning with regards to the whole Gospel, beginning with ourselves, together with the Church, and serving God in the world at large.

Written in three parts, one for each aspect of the Gospel, Montgomery and Cosper take pains to show us why all three aspects of the Gospel need to be held together. Sometimes, when too many people give their own theories and definitions about what the Gospel is, there tends to be a danger of over-reactions and over-corrections. If one emphasizes too much on kingdom only, we may end up becoming religious activists. If one reduces the Gospel to only Cross-focused, we may end up becoming overly dogmatic and rigid, even religious. If one reduces the Gospel to Grace-only, we may end up in circles of sentimentalism. The Gospels in the Bible asserts all three TOGETHER. So must we. Part One thus forms the foundations of the whole Gospel, complete and not reduced in any way.

Part Two builds upon the whole Gospel, and talks about the whole Church. Five aspects are mentioned, namely, the worshipers, family, servants, disciples, and witnesses. When we are accepted into the Kingdom, and we live as disciples of Christ, the Gospel makes us true worshipers and our lives reflect a life of worship to God. There are ample tips on how to run the Church worship service as well as responding in service. The Gospel makes us all children of God, which in turn means we are family. The Gospel also makes us servants in Christ, disciples of Christ, and witnesses for Christ.

Part Three looks at the purpose of our time on earth. It is because the whole world belongs to God, we need to be part of the redemptive story as redeemed people. We are not to live as people stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead, we are to be people of purpose and people of faith, serving one another, for the sake of the Gospel. The authors paint five dimensions of service.

  1. Begin with location, where we live
  2. Faithful with vocation, where we work
  3. Leisure in recreation, where we rest 
  4. Participate in restoration, where we fill a need
  5. Assist in multiplication, where we reproduce.

My Thoughts

Montgomery and Cosper are heavily influenced by Tim Keller's definition of the Gospel. They have contributed a well-balanced approach to treating the Gospel in its three aspects. Each aspect has been described with an eye on the other two. This is the strongest attribute of this book. The authors have written with clarity and conviction, and make sure that the reader maintains adequate awareness that all three aspects of the Gospel must be asserted together. It is also very Trinitarian influenced, in which God exists in the identity of the Triune God. These lead to the disciple of Christ, also projecting a three-fold understanding of the spiritual life. Firstly, the foundation of one's Christian life is the Gospel. Secondly, the living out of this identity is through the Church. Thirdly, the domain of influence for both the individual as well as the Church is the world at large. All of these are to be lived out together. In other words, one cannot be an individualistic Christian. Neither can one become so much a part of the Church that one forgets his very own identity and vocation. At the same time, the disciple of Christ is aware of the larger purpose of the Kingdom, the essence of the Gospel, and the life of Grace.

I find my understanding of the Gospel being refreshed and enlightened again by Montgomery and Cosper. They have given the Christian community a helpful treatise on what exactly is the Gospel, in a world of competing definitions and multi-variate understanding of the Gospel. Filled with examples, and references from scholars and reputed leaders, they compile the material in a readable manner. This is theology at work, simple but not simplistic, clear and concise. I highly recommend this book as a way to sieve through the many books and resources out there that claim to be Gospel-centered. If you want to get a head start on what Gospel-centered mission is, why not begin with this book? You will then have tools to understand and appreciate other books better.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Crossway Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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