Review: Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian (Crossway, 2011) – Updated 12/16/11

Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tulian Tchividjian

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.

Mark Jones review  of Jesus + Nothing = Everything  (An Analysis) (Link here)

An Interesting and Unintended Comment on the Book of Galatians

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C. S. Lewis

Reality is…

“Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have. So let us leave behind all these boys’ philosophies–these over simple answers. The problem is not simple and the answer is not going to be simple either.” – C. S. Lewis

Manhood as Cheap, Grownup Adolescence

This YouTube clip disturbed me this morning.  It may be old news to you guys, but I just stumbled upon it.  I’m all for being a fan of certain things, or teams, or people, but this is excessive to the point that it alarms and frightens me more than entertains or informs how we should act as men.

When our love for a team eclipses our love for our children, or spouse, we have held our manhood cheap.  Instead of being a man, we are infantile boys with the rights to drink, drive, marry, vote and own a gun – none of which we are mature enough to handle.

I wish this Dad would man-up, love his family more than the Red Sox, repent to his younger son and honor his older son who was more of a man than the child nearly 10x his age on the other side of the counter.

Full link and story here: http://www.sportsgrid.com/mlb/father-threatens-to-disown-crying-son-for-yankees-fandom/

Deeper grace from before the dawn of time

Found this quote over at Of First Importance (Deeper grace from before the dawn of time | Of First Importance) and wanted to share it here.  This is why, I believe, you should study the Trinity.  It is not a mere theological topic to be discussed in a sterile, academic environment, or only for theology nerds who read obscure and obtuse authors.  It is foundational for understanding the Gospel, and the Gospel affects your life.  In a later post, I will add some thoughts and recommendations for books to study on this topic, but for now, enjoy this quote by Sinclair Ferguson:

 

Before all time; prior to all worlds; when there was nothing ‘outside of’ God Himself; when the Father, Son, and Spirit found eternal, absolute, and unimaginable blessing, pleasure, and joy in Their holy triunity — it was Their agreed purpose to create a world. That world would fall. But in unison — and at infinitely great cost — this glorious triune God planned to bring you (if you are a believer) grace and salvation.

This is deeper grace from before the dawn of time. It was pictured in the rituals, the leaders, and the experiences of the Old Testament saints, all of whom longed to see what we see. All this is now ours. Our salvation depends on God’s covenant, rooted in eternity, foreshadowed in the Mosaic liturgy, fulfilled in Christ, enduring forever. No wonder Hebrews calls it ‘so great a salvation’ (Heb. 2:3).

Sinclair B. Ferguson, In Christ Alone, (136)

 

Why Looking for a Political Savior Can be a Bad Idea?

Loved this article. David Brooks picks apart the notion that what we typically look for in our political candidates is not a good man or woman for the job, but a shock-and-awe savior. History alone can bear out how silly and futile this expectation can be.

“The central problem is that Mitt Romney doesn’t fit the mold of what many Republicans want in a presidential candidate. They don’t want a technocratic manager. They want a bold, blunt radical outsider who will take on the establishment, speak truth to power and offend the liberal news media…

“They don’t want Organization Man. They want Braveheart.”

“The question is: Are they right to want this? Well, if they want an in-your-face media campaign that will produce delicious thrills for the true believers, they are absolutely right. But if they actually want to elect an effective executive who is right for this moment, they are probably not right.”

Here’s another good snapshot:

“It’s exciting to have charismatic leaders. But often the best leaders in business, in government and in life are not glittering saviors. They are professionals you hire to get a job done…

“The strongest case for Romney is that he’s nobody’s idea of a savior.”

While I hope you do not hear me endorsing anyone in particular with full, undoubted support, I do think that Brooks argument has a lot of credence.  My hope and prayer for the upcoming election is that we would vote more with our reason, than responding to the sensational.

Link to full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/04/opinion/brooks-in-defense-of-romney.html?src=tp&smid=fb-share