When I saw the title of this book and read the description, I admit feeling excitement. Having begun my own journey away from conventional Evangelical beliefs approximately 8 years ago, I have been anxious to find more books with Biblical explanations of my new-found beliefs, not only to offer help to others in understanding what I was trying to say, but also to confirm things I was just beginning to ‘know’ in my own heart.
While I believe this subject matter to be of utmost importance in today’s murky theological climate, I will admit to some disappointment in the author’s presentation. As far as I can tell, there are 2 full chapters which bear the heading “Introduction” – two too many in my opinion. The first introduction, entitled, “I am and I am not a Universalist” was brilliant! Short and concise, this chapter provided the foundation which must underlay this theology at every turn, simply because whenever anyone suggests that the Evangelical concept of hell is not based on the Biblical text, the “U” word is thrown out as a matter of course. 8 years of personal experience have taught me this.
Most Evangelicals don’t stop at the Universalist accusation … heresy is almost always close on its heels. Because of this, I think I understand the author’s second introduction, however, throughout the chapter, Crowder exhorts his readers to believe Biblical theology without really giving us any (con)texts. He made many assertions without Biblical basis, all the while promising to back everything up later on in the book. The chapter was too long, and spouted so many admonitions to BE happy, that I started feeling guilty and then angry. This chapter slowed me down tremendously, and would have stopped me from continuing with the book had I not made the commitment to review it in the first place.
I have since come to realize that my own personal circumstances of late contributed greatly to my distaste for Crowder almost shouting at me to be happy. I kept thinking to myself that he must not understand how hard life is for so many. Life is full of tragedy and grief, and although Crowder urged me to happiness, he didn’t really tell me why. Oh, there were platitudes and assertions that the great reversal has happened, but the fact is that very few ever see any real, lasting evidence of that in their lives or the lives of those around them (even those who claim to follow Christ). I kept wanting him to acknowledge the fact that life is hard and often the cross doesn’t experientially change anything or anyone in a measurable (even visible?) way, but he never did that. It felt like the last 30 years of unfounded nonsense I heard from pulpits week after week. Overall I think he was trying to begin his book with his conclusion, which to me was a big mistake.
Skeptical, I continued on. I am pleased to say that after the “be happy” introduction chapter Crowder (mostly) did not disappoint. He clearly grasps the barriers in the minds of his peers to the truths he endeavors to reveal in the book. However, many times I found myself finishing a section with the thought, “that argument was a cop-out”, or, worse, “where’s that in the Bible?!” Overall I found Crowder to be too repetitive and too willing to take rabbit trails that forced me to dig through a bit of nonsense to find the gist of what he was trying to say. For me, the key to changing my fellow-Christian’s mind is to speak the Truth concisely, without leaving room for distracting diversions – especially when dealing with such a controversial topic.
In Crowder’s defense, it was obvious that he has done his homework. I have long been a fan of Baxter Kruger (viz: Athanasius and Torrence) and the work he is doing to help Christians understand that Evangelicalism left the Trinity behind long ago. I appreciate that Crowder tries to expose an enormous amount of wrong doctrine and replace it with Biblical Truth, but perhaps that’s what bothered me most about the book – Crowder was trying to deal with everything and the result was not a very good treatment of much of anything. Many of his points needed more in-depth study, while several of the ones he brought up were unnecessary distractions from his main purpose/theme.
When I began this book, I had hopes that I had found something I could recommend to my Evangelical friends who were still struggling with the idea of ultimate reconciliation. After reading Cosmos Reborn, I have decided to continue recommending my go-to book on the subject by Baxter Kruger, Jesus and the Undoing of Adam.
I hope Crowder may consider dividing his book up into more manageable pieces, while most definitely weeding out the extraneous, distracting sections altogether. He has clearly hit upon Truths which need exposure, but I’m not convinced Cosmos Reborn is the best avenue to reaching those who need to hear it the most.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. 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.
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