Harmony with God: A Fresh Look at Repentance. By Zane C. Hodges. Dallas, TX: Redención Viva, 2001. 133 pp. (Paper), $9.95.
In the movie A Beautiful Mind, John Nash scolded a brilliant fellow graduate student for publishing material that had not a new or innovative idea anywhere within it. One cannot make that charge concerning Harmony with God. This book contains groundbreaking ideas that deserve a best-selling type of hearing.
Theologians have been notoriously sloppy when it comes to the doctrines of repentance and forgiveness. Not one to my knowledge has taken the time to meditate on the precise relationship between the two. What role does repentance play in the life of a Christian? When does a Christian need to repent? How can a forgiven person, a believer, still need forgiveness?
John Nash received a Nobel Prize for his novel work in the field of economics that grew out of his meditations. Hodges should receive a spiritual Nobel Prize for this book which has grown out of equally amazing meditations.
GES is happy that this book had its genesis at our conference on repentance in 1998. Hodges was a key speaker. But he was stricken with a heart attack and couldn’t attend. As a result, he wrote 6 newsletter articles for Grace in Focus that form half of this book. The other half of the book is new material.
Nearly every NT verse on repentance is discussed here. Since there is a Scripture Index, this book is a handy guide to all verses on repentance.
Here are the insights brought forth in Harmony with God. First, repentance is not a condition of eternal life. Second, repentance is a fellowship issue, not a justification issue. Third, both believers and unbelievers should repent in order to get right with God. Fourth, forgiveness is not to be equated with eternal life. Born-again people need ongoing forgiveness (e.g., 1 John 1:9). Forgiveness is primarily a fellowship issue. Fifth, on the cross Jesus did not merely potentially take away the sins of the world. He did so actually. No one will be sent to hell because of their sins. They will be sent there because they lack eternal life (Rev 20:15). Of course the reason anyone lacks eternal life is because they never believed in Jesus for it. Sixth, Hodges points out something else that is rarely discussed by others: God uses different methods to prepare people to come to faith in Jesus. He suggests three different avenues: deep soul thirst, gratitude for some blessing from God, and repentance from one’s sins (pp. 54-55). He points out that “God has many ways to bring men to Himself” and that “None of these ‘routes’ to faith should be mistaken for a ‘condition’ for eternal life” (p. 54).
This is actually a very short book that can be easily read in a few hours. However, you will want to read it over and over again for it is chock full of marvelous insights. And you will want it handy on your shelf as a reference work.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society