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The Hole in our Gospel is a fascinating book combining highly compelling statistical data on poverty with the author’s personal experience with the poor as well as his journey from corporate CEO to now head of Christian relief organization, World Vision

My reaction to and therefore my review of this book is definitely mixed.  There were some sections of brother Stearn’s work that had me all fired up (in a very good way) and wanting to go out and do anything I could to make a dent in global poverty.  Some parts of this book deeply sicken me as I see such selfishness and apathy in my own life toward many eternal and important things of this world.  I believe the Lord has, is and will use The Hole in our Gospel to radically wake up much of the rich American church to the needs of suffering millions around the world.  And for that, I’m very thankful.

Here are some real gems that I drew from this book –

“The amazing news of the gospel is that men and women, through Christ’s atoning death, can now be reconciled to God.”

“God is responsible for the harvest — bu we must plant, water, and cultivate the seeds.”

“But I want to be clear that this does not mean we are saved by piling up enough good works to satisfy God.  No, it means that any authentic and genuine commitment to Christ will be accompanied by demonstrable evidence of a transformed life.”

“I don’t want to also suggest that all true followers of Christ must forsake everything to bring comfort and justice to the poor.”

“While providing things…in urgent situations is sometimes necessary, it neither addresses the underlying stubbornness of poverty, nor is it sustainable; it just creates a dependency.”

The statistics!!!  “If your income is $25,000 per year, you are wealthier than approximately 90 percent of the world’s population!”

Stearns’ highlighting of the only lasting solution to the AIDS pandemic in Africa (see page 150)

Here are a few snippets I found concerning or I disagreed with in the book – 

“There is no “whole gospel” without compassion and justice shown to the poor.  It’s that simple.”

“The local church is the hope of the world, and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders. – Bill Hybles”

[speaking about being the CEO of World Vision]”for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m in the real game; I’m in God’s game.”

In the attempt to wake up much of the sleepy church to the real and horrifying issues of poverty, he sometimes emphasizes social action to the exclusion of social action that would also lead to preaching the risen Christ.  I’m completely with the author on the issue of faith without works is dead.  But, when he so thrusts the works part forward, it seems (not always, but sometimes) faith is left behind.

The author’s many references to non-Christian (though philanthropic and active) players in the field of poverty like Bono, Mother Theresa, etc).

Overall, the book was great.  A much needed voice in the call to the church to reject comfort as the status quo, to rise up and think seriously and biblically about our time, our talent and our treasure and begin to do something, one person at a time, one church at a time – to make a dent in the woes of this fallen world.  Preach Christ, yes!  But do not preach him without also giving a cup of cool water in Jesus’ name to those who are physically suffering, thirsty, hungry or infected with a life threatening disease.  I would recommend you read this book.  Especially if you’ve never read a book about poverty.

Other helpful resources on the topic http://www.whatsbestnext.com/2010/10/keller-on-the-gospel-and-the-poor/

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Other helpful resources on the topic http://www.whatsbestnext.com/2010/10/keller-on-the-gospel-and-the-poor/

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