The preface starts with a mention of the inspiration for the book coming from a message that David Wells delivered at the Founder's Conference in June of 2007. Wells basically made the point that God has laid out the truth in the Bible and that the biblical worldview "is the way God has taught us in his Word to view the world." From there, Dan gets to the heart of the problem in the modern evangelical scene when he says, "Folks have signed on without any real grasp of the gospel in all its fullness and power." He says that people see the gospel as the "ticket 'in'" and as "beginner's material". We basically take that initial step and get our way in and "move on to something else." I wholeheartedly agree with this assessment and really appreciate how he lays everything out here from the get-go. In fact, reading the preface just made me want to tear right on through the book, but at a pace where I could really enjoy every little bit. He even lays out an outline in bullet points in the preface to show the issues that he is going to cover in the book. These are things like who we are, who God is, what kind of world we live in...things that most people don't really understand, but that I believe all true Christians should have a good knowledge of. So he has given us a good idea of what to expect as we slip through the pages...have your Bibles handy as you read, though, because Dan does a great job of referencing the Bible as he lays out the truths of the Gospel.
As he moves into the introduction, Dan lays out some key contrasts between the church scene today and the New Testament times. In order to do so, he takes us back to Thessalonica in Acts 17 when Jason and some of his friends were dragged off in front of the city officials. The charge against him was that he took in some people who "turned the world upside down". Dan asks the question, "How did they do it?" and then lays out the contrasts for us to see. They didn't have all of the tools that the church-growth movement utilizes, yet they were highly effective in their work. So let's look at some of the areas of difference that Dan lays out:
- The source of material for preaching
- Why people became Christians
- Knowledge of sin, what is needed, and what God has done.
- The biblical worldview involved with the church
- The connection between obedience and belief
- Making Jesus the issue
I will say that I have read through to the middle of the second part (I'm in Chapter 5) and going back and reading these notes from the Preface/Introduction and typing this have made me appreciate the book a bit more. I like they way it is laid out and how Dan takes the time to lay the foundation and build carefully upon it each step of the way. And as he does so, he keeps you interested as he develops ideas from Scripture and throws in some good humor along the way. I highly recommend the book just based upon reading about half of it so far...in fact, I'd say it would be a great book for nominal and immature Christians to get them thinking about what the Bible really says it means to be a Christian.