Justice, diversity and inclusion are three of the buzzwords in the world today. These are not bad things and christians should be calling for justice, diversity and inclusion. In some circles to say that the church should call for justice, diversity and inclusion would be enough to be branded a liberal. But it is vital to have these terms defined and to have the put in order of priority with the spread of the gospel being of first importance.
Let me tell you about this book and why I didn’t like it. I chose to review this book because the title intrigued me. I want to see Christians fitting for these three things, but how we go about it and what I mean by them is different from the author.
I must caveat this review with the fact that I live in the UK and this book is written for an American audience.
Let me say one thing that I did like about ‘Called to Reconciliation: How the Church Can Model Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion‘ by Jonathan Augustine, before I go into what made me conclude that the book isn’t good and why I wouldn’t recommend it.
I like the fact that this book gives a broad context of American history which has lead to the current political minefield around race in the US. The author helpful takes the reader back in time and explains certain policies and presidential campaigns that are doctors contributing to the current issues. Whilst this is interesting, I do wonder if the author is simplifying things or viewing certain events through his own political and theological perspective.
Not so Good
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
The author presents MLK as a prime example for Christians to follow today, whilst there definitely are thing that MLK did that should be celebrated there are parts of his theology that can’t be glossed over. Most Christians know this, but the author makes no attempt of showing these concerns or at least flagging them to the reader.
- Return to the Apostolic Church
Returning to the practice of the Early Church is a good thing, but how it is defined is important. Jonathan Augustine argues that the Early Church was a place of inclusion regardless of race, social status and gender. This is true and it is how the church should be today. But what Jonathan doesn’t highlight is the call that the Early Church, and that of any biblical church, is to deny self, submit to and follow Jesus. The author seems to think that the church should be promoting a ‘come as you are and stay as you are message’ rather than a ‘come as you are and be transformed from the inside out by Jesus’ message. In addition to this some of his biblical work is questionable. He argues that the focus of Romans is social reconciliation between mankind. Whilst there are parts of Romans that highlight the reconciliation between people, that is birthed out of the gospel and reconciliation between man and God through Christ.
The last thing that I will mention is how Jonathan Augustine defines diversity and inclusion. Jonathan takes the view that every church should be pro-LGBTQ+ and affirming of that lifestyle, arguing that only then is the church really being what it should be according to Scripture. This simply is not true and does not fit with a biblical understanding of sexuality and God’s design for men and women, marriage and family. Sadly the author seems to have been more influenced by culture in this point than the Bible. The Bible is clear about God’s plan for marriage and sexuality and to affirm anything that deviates from that is not right.
Taking these points, this is not a book that I would recommend. So why am I reviewing it? Because I also want my readers to understand what some publishers are promoting and publishing as Christian material that actually goes against the Bible and isn’t helpful.
Whenever we approach any topic, we must think carefully, investigate what the Bible has to say on the matter well and submit to God’s Word rather than what culture wants us to believe.
*** I received this book from NetGalley on behalf of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not change the way I rate the book. My views are my own. ***