Book of the Month/June 2021

Sharing Options

I am happy to commend this book, and to do so enthusiastically. It has one great strength and, as is often the case with such things, it happens to be the same thing as its greatest weakness.

The theology is really solid, the thinking clear, and the writing is lucid and straight to the point.

What would happen if you took the theology of the Puritans—and I am thinking of men like Thomas Goodwin, John Flavel, Richard Sibbes, and John Bunyan—and translated it into the language of twenty-first century evangelicals? And suppose the theology you were translating were that aspect of theology that dealt with God’s attitude toward His people in their sinful condition. What would happen then?

This book is what would happen, that’s what.

Dane Ortlund does a really good job with this task and it was a daunting one. The strength of the book is that he takes the Puritan zeal for the display of God’s mercy and glory in the salvation of sinners, and translates it into contemporary language. The downside is that, as a result, there are a handful of places where the rhetoric comes off as maudlin or mawkish. But that is an occasional rhetorical misstep—the theology is tight, and Ortlund’s doctrine of the wrath of God is as hard as nails. This is no therapeutic “poor little buddy” theology. It is not catering to the narcissistic desire of fallen men to be flattered out of their sins.

No. We need to be saved from our sins, and we need to believe that this is something that a holy God really wants to do. If you know anybody in need of a dose of strong consolation, this would be a good book to give them.