Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Review: Blind Spots by Collin Hansen

Collin Hansen presents the Christian world with an helpful, new book that seeks to honor the individual strengths God the Spirit has given his church—highlighting the need for courage, compassion, and commission in a full-orbed, multi-facetious reality rather than a truncated and limited one-ism which esteems a single strength and derides the remaining two. “Not a balance,” Hansen says, but the fullness of each applied in the appropriate circumstances. Indeed, Christ was compassionate! But he also chastised the unrepentant sinner. Yes, Christ was bold! But he also presented the gospel in communicable stories. Christ was Prophet, Priest, and King who knew precisely how use his head, heart, and hands in whichever fashion the individual needed.

Book Thesis:

“This book is about seeing our differences as opportunity. God created us in splendid diversity of thought, experience, and personality. And when these differences cohere around the gospel of Jesus Christ, they work together to challenge, comfort, and compel a needy world with the only love that will never fail or fade.”

Hansen further explains his motivation for this next installment in Crossway and TGC’s Cultural Renewal Series:

“I wrote this book because my arguments stopped working. I pointed to Bible verses. I appealed to reason. I turned to church history. Nothing changed with my opponents.”

And he did not write it in order that

“You would find popularity with the world or make peace with one another at the expense of the revealed truth of God’s Word,”

But rather that we all

“Might learn to compare [ourselves] more to Christ than to other Christians.

By entrusting ourselves to Jesus, we need to be willing to reposition and repent wherever necessary.

Does he accomplish all he set out to do? I think he certainly makes an excellent start. In truth: this book is short: a mere 128 pages from cover to cover, and although I think its brevity is one of its strengths, there is an inherent trade-off. Collin gets the ball moving, nudging it over the hill, but what happens thereafter will be the result of people incorporating its truth into their lives and churches.

I wanted him to tease out some of the implications on church life; I wanted him to provide exposition/case studies of NT periscopes; I wanted him to relate it to the Christ-and-Culture dialogue; I wanted more than this project was meant to accomplish. And so I have to state that it did accomplish its goal. (And indeed, isn’t it better to have been left wanting more than trudging exasperated to the finish line?)

I found myself evaluating my own strengths and weaknesses, holding up a mirror and seeing some real blind spots, thinking “You tell ‘em!” only to be confronted with being told. But more importantly I was shown Jesus and I was encouraged in the task which he has given us. I was shown the reality of our world—one of tragedy AND hope, not full of excessive pessimism or optimism; I was strengthened in faith in the King who is reconciling the world to himself and will return to renew and judge the earth. I was given greater appreciation for my church and the individuals within it who are skilled and impassioned, many times in different ways than I am. I was able to see beauteous harmony in diversity, and challenged to develop those areas in my life that I forget Jesus also perfected through his incarnation.

The picture Hansen offers of the regenerate church on mission is an exciting possibility—and I pray that countless Christians engraft his passion to end the sex-slave trade; that the courageous, the compassionate, and the commissioned rise up together to shine light in one of the darkest corners of our world today.

I hope that this book becomes a source of study for small groups across the church, that a grass-roots revival of unity might tremor from the bride of Christ through the world, indeed as Hansen states:

“The world can ignore another special-interest group. They can ignore another awareness campaign. They can even ignore another law. But the world cannot ignore churches united around this vision, Christians who put this compassion into action. We don’t even need a political majority to act….You can do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God even if you can’t claim an ally in the White House.”

I rate this book 5/5 stars with hopes for supplementary material to come.

I recommend this book to all Christians young, and old, immature or mature in faith; and I hope especially to see this book in church contexts.

This book might be compared to Dennis Hollinger’s Head, Heart & Hands, Thabiti Anyabwile’s The Life of God in the Soul of the Church, Steve Timmis and Tim Chester, Total Church, as well as some other books that focus on unity of character & church.

I received this book from Crossway Publishers as part of their Launch Team to introduce Blind Spots into the world.

This review is crosslisted on Goodreads and Amazon

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