4 July 2012

Review: Godspeed by Britt Merrick

Godspeed: Making Christ's Mission Your Own is specifically directed at American Christians, but the principles apply in other Western countries. It would be easy for me, sitting here in New Zealand, to say that because this book is specifically focussed on American Christians, it is not talking about me, my friends or my church. But it is. While the American church might display more of the faults Merrick speaks of, that is merely a function of size. Those same faults exist in New Zealand and in England (where I lived for ten years), and no doubt in other countries too.

Merrick speaks about “Incarnational Christianity”, which means that “we’re called out of the world in worship to God while being sent into the world as witnesses of God”. This struck me as an interesting point, and one that many Christians miss. I know many Christians who homeschool their children to prevent them being influenced by worldly things, yet Merrick would say they were missing half the message.

As with many of the best Christian non-fiction books, the author is giving their personal testimony, sharing what has impacted and changed their life. It is 'I found' rather than the lecturing 'you should' tone that some authors take. Godspeed is much more readable and teachable because of that underlying spirit of humility.

But the message of Godspeedruns the risk of being obscured by the vocabulary, especially in the opening chapters. Most authors tend to follow the rule of never using a complex word where a simple one will do. Merrick (or perhaps his collaborator) seems to take the opposite approach. I thought I had a good vocabulary, but I have never heard of terms like missiologically, ecclesiocentric, cosmocentric and anthropocentric (I find that am not alone. My 2010 edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English, which defines over 350,000 words, has only heard of two of these words, implying that the other two are either very new, or the author made them up).

Fortunately, these terms were explained, even though some others were not. Perhaps a Bible college graduate can explain the concept of the Biblical metanarrative. I can't. Nor can my dictionary. Godspeedbecomes much more readable after the first chapter, after the author abandons the theological terms and starts using more everyday language. Well worth reading, if you can get past the opening chapters.

Thanks to David C Cook and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

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