In light of my good friend Dan Phillips receiving a nomination as “Best New Author” from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association for his outstanding, You-have-to-read-this book, The World-Tilting Gospel, I thought I would republish the review I wrote up last year. Maybe now the big, Oprah Winfrey influencing bloggers like Tim Challies will get around to doing an actual review.
A book review by Fred Butler
During the summer after God saved me, a friend gave me a copy of a little book by A.W. Pink called, Profiting from the Word. This short book, comprised of a handful of articles Pink published in his monthly, Studies in the Scriptures, explored how God’s Word should be profiting a Christian in such areas as personal prayer, confronting worldliness, and dealing with sin.
As a brand new believer made sensitive to God’s Word, the book shook my foundations. I never had any one explain biblical truth to me in the way Pink explained it. At that time in my life, it was as if God had sent it from heaven just for me. That 120 page book was used of the Lord to outline the trajectory of my spiritual life from that first summer to this this point 20 odd years later.
Dan Phillips first published book, The World-Tilting Gospel, has the same core shaping potential for Christians both new and seasoned in the faith.
Over the last few years, Dan has become one of my favorite bloggers. His writing is showcased along with Phil Johnson’s and Frank Turk’s at Team Pyro and his own personal blog, Biblical Christianity. His posts are always fun to read even if it is just an amusing video or serious prose. They are filled with humor, warmth, sound theology, and rich, biblical insight. Dan’ book captures the same style his blog writing has endeared to his readers.
The title, “The World-Tilting Gospel,” is taken from Acts 17:6 which says, …these men have turned the world upside down, and Dan’s study explores the reason for the accusation and exhorts us modern day Christians to exhibit the same “world tilting” faith as the Christians in Acts.
Dan outlines the direction of his book by asking four questions. Part 1 asks “Who Are We?” and that question is answered in three chapters designed to explain who God is as our creator, Adam’s fall in the garden, and how Adam’s sin impacts all of humanity without exception. Part 2 asks, “What Has God Done For Us?” and chapters 4-6 discuss God’s plan of salvation established in eternity past and brought to mankind through Jesus Christ. Part 3 then asks, “How Do We Get In?” and chapters 7 and 8 are an in-depth study of our justification before God on account of Christ’s work and the Spirit’s regenerating work that re-orients our hearts toward serving God. In part 4, Dan spends the remainder of the book from chapters 9-14 answering the question, “How Do We Get Going?”
Part 4 is where Dan shows us how our theology (what he has been laying down in the previous three parts) interfaces and impacts our practical life. This is the better part of the book in my opinion, because he tells us how we are to work out our doctrine as genuine “world tilters” just like our Christian fore-fathers in the days of Acts. As he develops the practical implications of our faith, Dan highlights three significant doctrinal errors that have ensnared a good many Christians pursing their sanctification. Dan refers to the practitioners of these errors as “the gutless gracers,” “crises up-graders,” and “the muzzy mystics.” We know them as the classic no-lordship proponents, the pefectionists in their various errant forms, and the pietists in all their various errant forms.
After he critiques these seriously wrong-headed views of the Christian life, Dan gives two chapters to explaining what the Bible means by “the flesh,” and how the Holy Spirit should be working in our lives. These two chapters are alone worth the price of this book. Dan is able to take two misunderstood and often wrongly taught subjects of putting off our “flesh” and being “filled with the Spirit,” and anchor these doctrines in the text of Scripture. The final chapter pulls together all that Dan has taught us and explains how what was studied should craft our lives as Christians.
Overall, Dan has written a theological primer of sorts that encapsulates the fundamentals of our Christian faith. That’s why I say this book has such core shaping potential. It is perfect for new Christians, because it roots them in the foundations of their faith. This is what Christianity is all about, and this is how we are to live out our faith. New Christians will be served well by reading this book early on, because it will help guard their minds against the typical bad teaching they are for sure to hear (gutless grace, crises up-grading, and muzzy mysticism), and set them on a cleared path for serving the Lord.
Yet this book is also beneficial for seasoned believers as well. I already have a few people in mind that I will give this book to as a gift. It’s easy for a Christian to forget who he or she is. After plodding along serving the Lord for a decade, going to church, hearing hundreds of sermons, maybe even going on a short-term mission trip, a person’s faith can become routine, dull, and mediocre. There is a human tendency to forget who we are, where we are going, why we even came to Christ in the first place. The World-tilting Gospel is an excellent reminder of who God is, our original condition, God’s plan to save us, and the purpose of our Christian walk is to turn the world up-side down.
BTW. Those interested in getting a more detailed overview of Dan’s book can check out a blogger (who happens to be a Methodist. A Methodist!) who is doing a chapter by chapter study at her blog.