An Urgent Call to a Serious Faith. By Dave Hunt. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2000. 272 pp. Paper, $9.99.
According to the back cover, this book “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.” That is a fairly accurate description of what the book contains: everything. While this is not by any means a systematic theology, Hunt covers a lot of ground.
The title, An Urgent Call to a Serious Faith, probably does as good a job as possible in garnering interest and yet saying something about the contents. The problem is the book covers such a wide range of topics that it reads more like an anthology of sermons than as a single-topic book.
The author has a passion in this book for two things: putting one’s faith into practice and rejecting anything related to psychology, secular or Christian. The latter creeps up again and again (see, for example, pp. 101-112, 151-52, 203). Some of his statements in this regard are hard to prove or accept (e.g., “There are no chemical solutions to spiritual problems. Yet millions take drugs such as Prosac, Effexor, Valium, Ritalin, Zoloft, Paxil and so on to deal with spiritual problems” p. 203). He does, however, do a fair job of explaining why loving your neighbor as yourself is not a call to heightened self-love (pp. 151-52).
When it comes to the gospel, Hunt is fairly clear in the chapter by that title (What Is the Gospel?). He indicates that we are saved by faith apart from works (pp. 69-76). He is clear on the finished work of Christ. He shows that we must call people to believe on Christ for salvation from hell, not for happiness, success, marital restoration, or stress relief (p. 75).
Unfortunately, in his chapter on eternal security, he takes away much of what he said in the earlier chapter on the gospel. Immediately after speaking of the Judgment Seat of Christ and believers who are saved yet so as through fire, he asks, “Do we then, on the basis of ‘once saved, always saved,’ encourage Christians to ‘sin that grace may abound’?” I loved the question and was anxious to read his reply. His answer, once he gets past Paul’s answer, is disturbing.
He writes, “With Paul we say, ‘God forbid!’ We offer no comfort or assurance to those living in sin.We don’t say, ‘You’re okay because you once made a “decision” for Christ.’ Instead we warn, ‘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?’ And to all, we declare with Paul, ‘Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves’ (2 Corinthians 13:5, italics added, p. 223).”
That is so far off from what he said earlier, one wonders if he used a ghost writer who inserted his or her own theology at this point.
I found this book to contain much good material. Unfortunately, it is not packaged well. There is littleflow to this book. Each chapter is like a new booklet or essay only slightly related to what precedes or follows.
I recommend this book for those who like Dave Hunt’s works, and for those willing to do a fair amount of sifting in order to find the gold buried within.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society