“Because of God’s nearness, we are never alone.” (p77)
This book. You guys. I am so very glad I read this book. Lisa Sharon Harper has such a firm and confident voice in The Very Good Gospel. It felt like a lifetime of lessons learned spilled out on the pages of this book. The first three chapters go back to the first few chapters of Genesis to tell the story of creation and the fall. At the very beginning of the book, Ms. Harper tells us basically why she had to write this book and her why is so very compelling. At one point she says (in response to something she experienced), “The good news of my gospel doesn’t feel good enough.” This is exactly the way I’ve been feeling for the better part of two years – that if the Gospel excludes, then is it really the Gospel (good news) at all? I’ve learned in my own journey over the last year or so that the Gospel has always been all-inclusive, and that Christians have been the ones excluding people all along. This realization has entirely up-ended my life, just as it did Lisa’s.
Although the title of the book is The Very Good Gospel, the subject of the book is shalom – or peace with God, with others, with creation itself and with our own selves. She covers topics such as race, broken families, gender issues, and so very much more. Each chapter takes one of these topics and looks at it from the perspective of what should be and what could be.
I truly believe that everyone should read this book. You may not agree with every single word written (although I pretty much did), but you will certainly come out of the book with a greater understanding of God’s very best plan for humankind and how we have a responsibility as his children to exercise dominion over all God has given us. Make sure to read the book to understand what the word dominion means – it may not be what you think it is. It’s mostly about stewardship and taking the best care of the things God has entrusted to us – but it’s also so much more.
In The Very Good Gospel, you’ll find a fresh perspective on the first few chapters of Genesis, what it means for something to be very good (tov me’od), and several other concepts and ideas that were almost entirely new to me (in the best way). This book is well-researched and superbly well-written, but most of all the content of the book will shift your perspective towards a better understanding of yourself and the people and world around you. I cannot recommend The Very Good Gospel highly enough!
Some of my favorite quotables from The Very Good Gospel:
“it is not enough to believe a set of principles or doctrines. Rather, principles and doctrines must transform the way we live. Our faith is kinetic, lived out in the world through our hands and feet.” (p7)
“Shalom is the stuff of the Kingdom. It’s what the Kingdom of God looks like in context. It’s what citizenship in the Kingdom of God requires and what the Kingdom promises to those who choose God and God’s ways to peace.” (p13)
“Shame is insidious. It hits at the core of our being and emanates from there to affect everything else. It has nothing to do with the truth. It is based on lies about the essence of our being.” (p70-71) … “Shame is a counteroffer to the love of God, which is the connection between all things.” (p72)
“Patriarchal interpretations of Scripture fail to start at the beginning. They start after the Fall, in Genesis 3. As a result, they present observations of a fallen world as if the current state is in line with God’s good intentions. That is far from the truth.” (p83)
“you will flourish when you stop apologizing for your power and live fully into the woman God created you to be.” (p101)
“The sin-stained mantra of human peace is “Our peace at the expense of their peace!”” (p108)
Here’s an awesome video of Lisa Sharon Harper sharing about The Very Good Gospel:
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from BloggingforBooks.com for the purposes of this review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own