My time for book reviews has been sparse as of late. That is why taking the time to write something up on Tullian Tchividjian’s new book Jesus + Nothing = Everything should carry a little extra weight if you are considering purchasing this book.
Let me start off by saying that this is the first book by Tullian Tchividjian that I have read. I cannot be labeled a “fanboy” who is doing this out of some misplaced devotion to another person. I have read a few articles of his over at The Gospel Coalition that I have found usually helpful.
This book was given to me by Crossway publishers to read and post several Tweets about tomorrow. I took on the assignment out of my interest in the book, especially its title. You see earlier this year I had the privilege of leading a group of 12 men through a study in the book of Galatians. One of our first discussion questions, after having read through Galatians several times, was to each describe the gospel in your own words. The one that stood out to me and several of the other guys was “Jesus + Something = Nothing, but Jesus + Nothing = Everything.” Naturally, seeing a title of a upcoming book with that same premise peeked my interest.
Jesus + Nothing = Everything does a great job unpacking the gospel both doctrinally and practically, and it does so without being obtuse or fluffy. I have found every chapter worth reading, and each is full of sound but intriguing insights into the nature of the gospel and how it affects our lives.
And that for me is its strength. It takes the truth of what Jesus has done for us in all of its glorious heights, and applies to the deepest and darkest corners of my heart, particularly those that want to stroke my ego and claim that I can somehow attain or maintain my relationship with God by anything I can contribute. I can’t. Grace doesn’t work that way. Instead, it works like Jesus + Nothing = Everything.
Another strength of the book is the full-orbed picture of the gospel. If you tend to follow the theological discussions in the blogosphere (are we still using that word?), you’ll know that over the past few years, discussions on the gospel have taken the line of justification by faith for the individual, or cosmic restoration of all things. Either/or. What I love about Jesus + Nothing = Everything is that Tchividjian doesn’t discuss the gospel along those lines. Instead, he agrees with Paul who writes over and over again that the effect of Christ’s redeeming work covers ta panta – all things. Thus the “everything” in the title. And he does so without sacrificing or losing the great and principle doctrine of “justification by faith alone.” A rare feat to achieve when the context of the conversation is set in false dichotomies.
Tullian Tchividjian’s book Jesus + Nothing = Everything will find a place on my bookshelf, both to revisit personally and to hand out to people in my church, or friends I’m having ongoing conversations with regarding the gospel and the Christian faith. Its that good, and I commend it to you all for your consideration.
If you are wondering where more of the substance, or quotes, from Tullian Tchividjian’s book is in a review, I would encourage you all to follow me on Twitter (@gensheer) where tomorrow, I will be tweeting select quotes throughout the day and using the hashtag #JPNE.
UPDATE: I have recently come across another review of this book that I would like to include in my own blog. It is more theologically critical of the book and particularly with the confusion over whether the gospel is more than just “justification by faith”. I personally do not think Tchividjian’s book has to lead to this critics conclusions, but it is something worth thinking about when reading any book about the gospel. I found the review helpful in providing a perspective I didn’t include in my own, but also, that I do not think undermines the integrity or value of Tchividjian’s book.