As I've stated in previous reviews of this nature, I tend to steer clear on nonfiction books. If done incorrectly, nonfiction tends to ramble and repeat itself, looping around again and again until the main point gets lost in the detail the author tried to squeeze into so many pages. However, if done correctly, nonfiction can have a major and lasting impact on the reader, and the author as well. I've found few nonfiction books I actually enjoyed reading. Owen Strachan's Risky Gospel is one of them.
Within the first chapter itself, Strachan outlines what he's going to say. No bushes are ever beaten about. He states very plainly that what he's presenting is nothing but the Gospel-that is, Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Many theology books I've read have attempted to present a personal interpretation (read, "clogged and confusing message") of the Gospel. Strachan sticks to the Bible, and what and who Christ was and is. His thoughts and presented truths never stray from what Christ teaches us through God's scriptures. Coming from a background where I've seen people be led astray by muddle interpretation, this honesty and straightforward clarity is completely refreshing. One point in particular I read, and I wanted to stand up and cheer: Strachan has sections about self-discipline when it comes to any area in our life. He combats the common notion that discipline is gone with the clear and obvious statement that it's not gone, it's simply misdirected. Had discipline been completely eradicated from our lives and that of everyone around us, the world would currently be in chaos. The entire book displays Strachan's precision in thinking with points such as this. Never is he vague and uncertain about what he wants to say.
Building from that precision, Strachan organizes Risky Gospel in the easiest possible way to follow. Each chapter builds up from the previous one and takes the scaffolding of truth higher. When the last page was turned, I found myself completely satisfied, yet hungering for more--exactly the effect Christ has on His followers, and exactly the effect Strachan talks about throughout the entirety of his book. This self-evident, real-life situation proves Christ far more than any high arguments could. Strachan uses the simplicity that Christ Himself taught with, which in itself refreshes this aching soul's desire for truth.
Writing style is never usually an issue if the rules are broken with artistic flair. Then the breaking of rules becomes personal style and familiarizes the reader with the author. While there were moments where I noticed comma splices or unneeded semicolons, Strachan's writing style allows for pretty smooth reading the entire way through. In the field of scholastics, such accessibility is highly underrated. I commend Strachan for his bold simplicity.
I will admit that when I read that he grew up in East Machias, Maine, I immediately had favoritism and bias. I know exactly what he means when he brings in analogies from growing up in the Pine Tree State, as I grew up here myself. This is not what swayed my opinion of him, though. Strachan's immediate and truthful representation of Jesus Christ and His Gospel is the ultimate deciding factor here. Nothing but truth is given to the reader, and this more than anything is bound to turn hearts toward and back to Christ. I look forward to seeing this book spread and become as widespread as Chan's Crazy Love or Kyle Idleman's Not A Fan. Strachan has a very lovely and simple way of relaying God's message of good news. The light is shining; all people need to do is look and follow.- Review date: 11/29/13, written by Caitlin Schesser of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Books
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