Book Review: Prodigal Christianity

Review by Kathy Cheveldayoff of David Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw’s Prodigal Christianity: 10 Signposts into the Missional Frontier (Jossey-Bass, 2013).4603052529_5dc6265d6b_b

For me, this book report has been a difficult, painful exercise because:

  1. I have been tried in the fires of persecution for my faith numbers of times.
  2. I have lived through the 20-something-year cycles which the church goes through (Ecclesiastes 1:9: nothing new under the sun.)
  3. I have come to this book to perhaps finally find answers about engaging the post-Christian world. I have been disappointed.

My Christian faith has been tried and tempered by a number of precepts:

  1. God’s Word is the truth.
  2. Faith needs this truth foundation to flourish.
  3. There cannot be any relativism in Scriptural interpretation.
  4. Contextualizing from culture to Scripture will, in the long run, create a watered-down version of the Gospel.
  5. We can’t fix anything. Only God can.
  6. God’s message is spoken through believers using all the gifts, or not (see Romans 1 on Creation speaking God’s message.)

Therefore: The Gospel of Jesus Christ must be allowed to be the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We cannot fall for the utopian agenda because Jesus comes to minister exactly where life is the darkest. I have seen this so many times in ministry amongst the marginalized and persecuted unto death. The circumstances may not change but the capacity to stay the course in spite of circumstances is what Jesus Christ brings to the table.

So, yes there is pluralism, and yes there is diversity. There always has been. Jesus Christ experienced it many times as well as the apostles in their witness. Jesus spoke truth, lived truth, and ministered truth amongst the people groups He encountered. And everywhere He went He brought hope and healing. That is why His message was believed and why the faith exploded.

We cannot be like those Paul warns about in 2 Timothy 3:5  who, having a form of godliness, rejected the power thereof. Case in point: many Muslims are coming to Christ solely through experiencing God’s power through dreams, visions and actual healing and with nary a believing Christian in sight. Fitch and Holsclaw’s book should have talked about this aspect of the faith as this is what secures the heart of the unconverted.

So, no, this book did not really answer my question but it did give me an idea that really, over the millennia, we have been on target and we will continue to do so, as we are coerced by the Holy Spirit to dive into the river of God, experience His radical love  and  then share it with our neighbour.

Do you agree with this assessment? What did you find helpful in this review? What would you add to the conversation? To offer your feedback or to learn more about how you can read and review a book for us, email Cailey at cmorgan@cbwc.ca.

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