Rumors of God

ru·mor /ˈrumər/ [roo-mer]
1. a story or statement in general circulation without confirmation or certainty as to facts: "a rumor of war."

There are rumors all around us. Relationships. Sports. Politics. Celebrity gossip is an industry built on rumor. Rumors can be intriguing, but they also create uncertainty and even fear. Some have called ours a “culture of fear.” People live in a constant state of distress, often fueled by rumors that such and such did or may happen. The result: people live disoriented lives, unsure what reality is. Unhappiness wins.

Well, such a state also applies to Christianity in America, or at least so says young(er) evangelical pastors/leaders Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson. In their new book, Rumors of God, these men raise an important issue for Christians in America: “Christians talk a lot about what we are doing or how we are doing it, but don’t discuss why any of it even matters.” Any basis for faith is left unexplored or ill-defined. Any knowledge of meaning and reality is mere rumor.

In the face of this problem, the book sets out to confirm the rumors “that God is doing something new in the church.” In doing so, the author’s trace central aspects of 21st Century evangelicalism, all under the rubric of these “rumors of God” - life, kingdom, generosity, love, grace, freedom, commitment, community, justice, and hope.

Stylistically, the book is easy to read, full of engaging stories and straightforward explanations. I’ll be clear, at times depth is lacking (e.g. definition of the gospel - ch. 5) and the chapters could have been integrated better - it seems like ten separate sermons.. But if anything, the book should push the reader explore the themes further, testing for ourselves whether these “rumors” are true. There is only so much you can do in 189 pages!

I appreciated how in summarizing these broad topics, the authors present a balanced perspective that refuses (mostly) to pick sides of the evangelical theological spectrum on most topics. Their interaction with a variety of sources exemplify this strength. The main exception, however, is central. They limit the gospel to a penal substitutionary view of atonement (ch.5). Including their discussion on justice here (ch.9) would have enhanced their definition of the gospel. It's just too narrow. In fact, it was the discussion of justice I found most illuminating. A holistic “biblical justice” is defined, one which refuses to accept justice in the world as “optional initiatives for Christians looking for extra credit from God.” This is part of the “good news” of God’s kingdom, no!?! Intended or not, chapter order can communicate importance.

If I were to summarize my evaluation, I'd say Rumors of God is incomplete. But that’s okay. It succeeds in confirming what the rumors are (grace, love, community, justice, etc...) with the real task left to the reader. Knowing the rumors, now it’s up to the people of God to indeed confirm these rumors as reality and hope in our world. Rumors of God can help us along the way.

**The publisher provided me with an extra copy to give away. Let me know if you want it and I'll pass it along (comment and I'll arbitrarily decide who gets it)**

"Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson".


Ryan said...

Thanks for the review, Dave—sounds like an interesting read. I'll rarely turn down a free book, if you're willing to send it across the Rockies :).

David Warkentin said...

Looks like you win Ryan - on diligence to read till the end!

Ryan said...


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