The Explicit Gospel. By Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012. 237 pages. Paper, $17.99.
Matt Chandler is the Pastor of a megachurch in a Dallas suburb called The Village Church. In addition to a main church campus in Flower Mound, TX, there are three satellite churches which feature “Flat Matt.” Those churches have their own worship team and pastors, but the preaching is done via video feed from the Flower Mound church. Total membership of the four churches is over 5,000 and is said to be growing at over 1,000 new members per year.
Endorsers of the book include David Platt, a very strong Lordship Salvation proponent (see his book Radical), Mark Driscoll, a Calvinist who is a leading emerging church leader, D. A. Carson, a Lordship Salvation theologian, and Rick Warren, a church-growth guru.
JOTGES readers will likely be disappointed in the fact that, despite the title of the book, Chandler does not focus on what we must believe or do to have everlasting life. He does drop little hints here and there that he believes in a sort of soft Lordship Salvation. However, his aim is to consider what the gospel of Jesus Christ is and what it can and should produce in the lives of individuals, cities, and countries.
The book has three major sections: the gospel on the ground (God, man, Christ, response), the gospel in the air (creation, fall, reconciliation, consummation), and implications and applications (dangers in a gospel that is on the ground or in the air too long and moralism and the gospel).
It is hard to get a handle of what Chandler is trying to do. He seems to be arguing against a social gospel only, but in favor of a social gospel combined with a spiritual gospel. While he says that we will not succeed in transforming the world before Jesus comes, he suggests that we can transform our cities and our countries for Christ.
Chandler seems to adopt the theology and methodology of the emerging church movement. Salvation seems to be broader than individual deliverance from eternal condemnation. It seems to include personal wholeness and transformation as well as societal wholeness and transformation.
I did not find any mention of everlasting life in this book. Nor did I find any mention of spending eternity with the Lord. The emphasis is on the here and now.
Though this book is not easy to follow, I believe it is well worth reading for not only OT and NT scholars, but also pastors and well-educated lay people. I recommend it.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society