Title: The Hole in our Gospel Special Edition:
What Does God Expect of US? The Answer that Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World
Author: Richard Stearns
Genre: Theology / Social Justice
Rating: 3 of 5
Richard Stearns, the head of World Vision International, wrote this book as a wake-up call to Christians who neglect God’s call for his people to help meet the physical needs of the poor and oppressed (cf. James 1:27, 1 John 3:16-18). This is an area where far too many American conservative Christians/churches have been shamefully deficient over the last century (largely a sinful overreaction to the “social gospel” of theological liberalism that rejected personal salvation from sin in favor of social reform).
While the core challenge of the book is important, I found it repetitive, overlong, and not very helpful in terms of giving practical ways to get involved. It is one part autobiography, one part heartbreaking statistics on world poverty, one part post-millennial theology (the, in my opinion, mistaken idea that Christians have the mission to completely transform society and thus usher in the Kingdom of God), one part advertisement for giving money to World Vision, and a very light sprinkling of other ways you can get involved (one brief appendix at the back was excellent in this regard, but everything else was very generalized).
If you like a lot of personal stories and statistics woven into your theology/philosophy you will probably appreciate the book more than I did, but I think you can probably find other books out there that are more concise, practical and theologically sound than this one. I’m open to recommendations if you know of one.
I want to leave you with a link to one of my favorite compassionate ministries: Women at Risk, International “unites and educates to create circles of protection around those at risk through culturally sensitive, value-added intervention projects.” They are heavily involved in fighting against human trafficking and helping those victimized (or at high risk of being victimized) by it with a wide variety of programs both here in the US and around the world. Please check them out!