Monday, May 4, 2015

Restoring All Things, by John Stonestreet and Warren Cole Smith

When I picked up Restoring All Things: God's Audacious Plan to Save the World Through Everyday People, I knew it would be full of culturally relevant, theologically sound, well-referenced, insightful analysis.  Warren Cole Smith, publisher of World magazine, and John Stonestreet, who carries on Chuck Colson's tradition on the BreakPoint commentaries, both have organizational pedigrees that point to evangelical Christian thinking engaged with culture.

Smith and Stonestreet met expectations and more.  On one level, Restoring All Things covers a wide variety of cultural hot buttons--race, criminal justice, sexuality and marriage, poverty and wealth, etc.--from a conservative Evangelical position.  Anyone familiar with World and BreakPoint will have a good idea what to expect on each of these issues.  They provide reasonable discussion and explanations of their position, as well as helpful addition reading and action steps.

What sets Restoring All Things apart is the stories that constitute the bulk of each chapter.  They write, "the ideas that shape a culture are rarely advanced by argument.  Rather they are advanced by the stories that shape our imaginations."  Their hope is that as we read stories of the work ordinary people are doing, "not only will we be inspired to embrace the redemptive responsibility the church has in the world, we will be inspired to join in."

For example, it's one thing to read an argument in defense of marriage, yet another to read about someone who was faithfully married for 73 years, yet retained a romantic adoration of his wife.  It's one thing to read that "The best way to eliminate poverty is by creating jobs," yet another to read about a nation-wide network of faith-based job training programs.  It's one thing to read about sex trafficking and pornography, yet another to read stories of women who have been assisted in getting out of the sex trade.

Stonestreet and Smith are writing "to inspire everyday Christians to 'run toward the plague when everyone else is running away,'" and in hopes that "the church today [will] have the strategic wisdom to be fire-bearers in ways that are restorative and life-giving, and not merely reactionary."  Restoring All Things is inspirational and practical.  Of course one Christian can't be passionate about every issue covered herein, but every Christian can be informed, and can find work where their "deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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