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Book Reviews / Articles
by Barbara Buzzard:

 

"The Tipping Point"

by Malcolm Gladwell

 

"When Jesus Became


God
"

by Richard E. Rubenstein

 

"The Restitution of

Jesus Christ
"

by Kermit Zarley

 

"Did Calvin Murder



Servetus?
"

by Standford Rives

 

"They Never Told Me

This in Church
"

by Greg Deuble

 

"To God Be the Glory"

by Joel Hemphill

 

"Tyranny of the Trinity"

by P. R. Lackey


 

PDF Verson>   Barbara Buzzard Multimedia>


The Divine Conspiracy - Pg 3

Willard’s conclusion is jolting: “Does what we have discussed in this chapter not make it clear that serious difficulties currently bar people of good intent from an effectual understanding of Jesus’ gospel for life and discipleship in his kingdom?”[20] But I thought that the church was the institution which was to provide answers, not to bar people from an understanding of what is involved in being saved! Professor Willard, have you not turned our world upside down? I am mindful of the saying that it is not that Christianity has failed; it is that it has not been tried yet.

One chapter subheading is this: “the God of Jesus and His People”. I should love to know what Prof. Willard was thinking when he wrote this. On first reflection I imagined that he was speaking not of a divine conspiracy, but of a divine truth – that Jesus has a God. God obviously does not have a God, since He is God. If Jesus has a God – he cannot be God. I was disappointed that the keynote scripture in all of scripture, Ps. 110:1 which explains so very much about the makeup of our universe was missing from the scripture index.

The divine conspiracy, as I understand it, is that anyone who wants to can see and understand, but that no one has to see. (I would think that this is a great offense to Calvinists!) It includes the mystery of the kindness of God in His Gospel invitation  through His Son. Our part would be to believe in that Kingdom, and to act upon that belief – i.e. with obedience.
Sometimes a writer can so inject himself into his writing that you feel you know him. Along with his brilliant insights (e.g. Christian trinkets!) and observations came a sense that Willard liked/loved his fellow man. He was no carping critic but one who could see that all was not well in the established church -- where there has been a failure to identify and teach the gospel that Jesus preached.

This review covers only the first three chapters and the tenth (last) one. As a kingdom enthusiast, I was simply riveted by Willard’s thinking on that subject, and I have used up all my space. Do read this book. We all need to be challenged. I guarantee that you will be. The final chapter is entitled “The Restoration of All Things” and a subtitle reads: “Why We Must See A Future”. I was thoroughly relieved. In fact, I confess that I had to skip ahead. Willard makes the point that the future must make sense to us. I couldn’t agree more. “A human life or a human world is one that holds together in terms of the future. It essentially involves meaning. Meaning is not a luxury for us. It is a kind of spiritual oxygen, we might say, that enables our souls to live…The meaning of present events in human life is largely a matter of what comes later…From Jesus we learn of the ultimate context, God and his kingdom.”[21]

Prof. Willard thinks that Jesus made the present reality of the kingdom the basis of his gospel. Is it possible that he has overbalanced in his zeal and in his keen observations that all is not well within the church community? Books show us the world; Willard has shown us that the church world is ailing badly. It would not seem that the churches we know could be accredited by Jesus, as they preach a different gospel. “…the disconnection of life from faith, the absence from our churches of Jesus the teacher…is largely caused and sustained by the basic message that we constantly hear from Christian pulpits. We are flooded with what I have called ‘gospels of sin management,’…while Jesus’ invitation …remains for the most part ignored and unspoken.”[22]

“We who profess Christianity will believe what is constantly presented to us as gospel. If gospels of sin management are preached, they are what Christians will believe. And those in the wider world who reject those gospels will believe that what they have rejected is the gospel of Jesus Christ himself – when, in fact, they haven’t yet heard it.”[23]

Quite simply, I don’t see how it is possible to explain the kingdom without the second coming; and I did not find it in this book. As you will readily see from this quotation of C. S. Lewis – ignorance and confusion reign: “They (the four gospels) are not ‘the gospel,’ the statement of the Christian belief.”[24] This lack of understanding the gospel is enormously serious business for a culture that considers itself Christian.

A leading evangelism expert, observed: “We seem to be faced with what can be called an eclipse of the Kingdom of God lasting from the apostolic age to the present, particularly in our theology of evangelization.” He adds: “The Kingdom of God is God’s own dream, His project for the world and for humanity! He makes us dreamers and He wants us to be seduced by His dream and to dream with Him…It is not we who dream but God who dreams in us.”[25]

Scripture speaks of the blessed hope and all revolves around it; we have been mostly ignorant of that blessed hope. In truth, when our hearts are captivated by God’s promise, God’s dream, that blessed hope, then we will find that there is good news for life.

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[20] The Divine Conspiracy, p. 59
[21] Ibid., p. 386
[22] Ibid., p. 57
[23] Ibid., p. 58
[24] Letters to Young Churches,  C. S. Lewis, p. 10 of introduction
[25] Announcing the Reign of God, Dr. Mortimer Arias, Fortress Press, 1984






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