An Urgent Call to a Serious Faith. By Dave Hunt. Bend , OR : The Berean Call, 2000. 272 pp. Paper. $11.00.
The title is provocative. What would such a book cover?
According to the back cover, the subject of the book is the gospel: “For years, Dave Hunt has spoken out against the watering down of the message of salvation…Dave explains the meaning and content of the gospel.” But it covers more than that. The back cover description goes on: “An Urgent Call to a Serious Faith fosters deeper trust in and commitment to God by defining the biblical gospel—and what it saves us from, clarifying the call to discipleship, articulating the faith for which we must ‘earnestly contend,’ explaining the necessity of taking up the cross, developing what the Bible says about the Trinity, the incarnation, and the church, [and] confronting the challenge of living in the last days.”
After reading the book, I agree that what the back cover suggests is indeed covered. However, that is quite a broad subject for a book. This book is not well focused, and the result is that it is hard to see the point he is trying to make. Each of the points mentioned above would make a good book topic. And they aren’t so much embodied in the phrase an urgent call to a serious faith. I’m not sure what title would pull that all in. But if a big part of the book is about the message of salvation, then that title is misleading, for it is faith, not a serious faith, which results in eternal life. And it is faith specifically in Jesus, not merely faith or serious faith.
There are many points in this book with which JOTGES readers will find themselves saying amen. He shows (e.g., p. 143) that the expression eternal life concerns both quantity (eternal) and quality (degrees of abundance). He argues for degrees of eternal rewards (pp. 87, 92). Prosperity and success gospels are labeled rightly as false (pp. 75, 97). He cites the Bible as the only source of absolute truth and certainty (p. 55ff.). Prayer, he says, is not essential to salvation (p. 53). Absolute certainty is what he indicates we need now (p. 10). Anyone who lacks certainty is foolish, Hunt argues, if he doesn’t make a serious search for what lies beyond the grave and what he must do to have eternal life (pp. 10, 33). He also rejects ecumenism (pp. 39, 44).
However, there are things which will bother some JOTGES readers. There is, for example, says Hunt, no assurance for the uncommitted: “If you are not willing right now to live fully for Christ as Lord of your life, how can you say that you were really sincere when you supposedly committed yourself to Him at some time in the past?” (p. 223). Note that he speaks here of commitment, not faith.
As the preceding quote implies, also bothersome is his discussion of faith. For him faith seems to be more than believing a historical fact or promise. For Hunt faith includes some sort of commitment (pp. 85, 91, 100). On several occasions he slips in repentance as another or possibly co-condition for eternal life (pp. 41, 75).
Therefore, while there is helpful material in this book, it takes a certain amount of sifting to find it. This is more of a shotgun blast than it is a well-aimed rifle strike. Hunt throws a lot of material out there in the hopes that the reader will find some of it helpful. Since this isn’t my favorite book written by Hunt, whose works are generally excellent, I give it a mild recommendation.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Irving , TX