Book Review: The World Is Not Ours to Save

Activism is extremely popular with college students: sex trafficking, AIDS, workers' rights, abortion, immigration ... cause after cause captures the attention of our students.

There's something beautiful about this generation's passion to make a difference in the world. But students often struggle to connect passion for activism with belief about God.

I deeply appreciated the thought behind Tyler Wigg-Stevenson's new book, The World Is Not Ours to Save. He pushes us to consider our limits and our place in the world that belongs to God. This right view of our place shapes how we engage in activism and work to make the world a better place.

Much of the conversation about Christianity and social activism trends toward two poles: forget the world and focus on God OR take over the world and run it for God. Wigg-Stevenson creates a new pole. How can we either forget or control the world if it ultimately belongs to God?

The books has two flaws. The author tends to get stuck in his stories, forcing them to apply and stretching them to cover all of his ideas. Wigg-Stevenson also tends to lean a little more heavily toward the theoretical, at the expense of the practical. The ideas are wonderful and clearly presented, but it will take some work to translate them into action.

Wigg-Stevenson builds a his big framework for God's kingdom on Micah 4:1-5. He has excellent insights into the passage. At times, I felt like I was reading one of those old British evangelicals, with their precise exegetical outlines. His close attention to the biblical text forces us to consider facets of God's kingdom that often get ignored. I found myself particularly challenged by Wigg-Stevenson's examination of prosperity. Reflecting on Micah's teaching, Wigg-Stevenson notes "Sitting under one's own vine does not imply the pleasures of vacation, but rather the satisfaction at the end of a day's work" (p. 171).

I would definitely recommend this book for group discussion or for one-to-one discipleship.

3 comments:

  1. I think this stems from the natural difficulty believers have with the reality of what the world is and what we believe it should be based on our faith. That mental struggle to grasp the reason why we all suffer so much is exactly why we either give up on saving the world or give up on waiting for it to be saved.

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    1. I think you're right, John. That dissonance can be crippling. But a lot of folks are leaning to the other side, ignoring the larger existential questions about suffering and throwing themselves into activist work, building houses on the sand. There's got to be a better way to engage a world that needs saving.

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    2. There is I think. The commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. I think that if everyone focused on loving others through the medium they are passionate about, the world might not need saving. Plus, it's not our job to save the world. That was never what Jesus asked us to do. Our job is to spread Jesus through our love. Another reason why I think a lot of people who don't even recognize the christian Jesus are actually more in tune with him and his message than the Christians set on saving the world.

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