Book Review: The World-Tilting Gospel

The first generation of Christians were not popular. Nope, not by any stretch of the imagination. Ridicule, persecution, hatred, and scorn met them at every turn… and yet according to Acts 17:6-7, they “turned the world upside down.” They communicated the message of the Gospel more loudly and clearly than any other message before or since.

Now look around you.

Even with today’s abundance of social medias, celebrities, and “new-and-improved” evangelism techniques, too many modern-day Christians fail to share and articulate the Gospel effectively. In short, instead of turning the world upside down, they have been turned upside down by the world.

And that’s not the way it should be.

In his book The World-Tilting Gospel, Dan Phillips offers a clarion wake-up call to believers to have done with lesser things and embrace “a strategic, robust, biblical grasp of the of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its transformative implications”. And what better way to go about it than by getting back to basics?

Over the course of 300 pages, Phillips plainly lays out the biblically-framed Gospel, reminding us 1) who we are, 2) who God is, 3) how we got where we are, 4) what we need, 5) what God has done, and 6) what difference it makes.

It’s all about catching hold of a bible-based worldview and hangin’ on tight… and it makes for one whirlwind of a ride.

Phillips’ style is at once deeply personal and wisely pastoral. This – coupled with the crystal-clear lucidity of his writing – make the book engaging and the concepts which it sets forth easy to grasp. Occasionally, we even catch tidbits of his sense of humor (which is very funny, I might add).

Most importantly, though, The World-Tilting Gospel is literally drenched in Bible. Phillips never asks us to take his word for it: he always points back to scripture. And the book is all the more potent as a result.

While setting forth raw Gospel truth, the book simultaneously targets several erroneous teachings that often leave believers tied up in knots. Speaking for myself, I especially enjoyed the uncompromising indictment of the “deeper life” movement and its ilk  – what Phillips likes to call muzzy mysticism. In an age when such falsehood is being eagerly propagated among so many Christians, it was refreshing to hear someone call a spade a spade. Because in truth,

The “deeper life” teaching isn’t really deep. It just looks deep because it’s so muddy you can’t see any bottom.

Hello hammer, meet nail-head.

My conclusion? That should be quite obvious. I found The World-Tilting Gospel to be a wonderful refresher of the truths that make the Gospel of Jesus Christ so massively powerful. Whether you’re young or old, a newcomer to Christianity or a seasoned saint, I think you’ll find it to be a rich, encouraging, and convicting book.

Toward the end, Phillips writes,

Embrace the Gospel of God for yourself, and use every opportunity to tell it to others. It is that Gospel, and not our methods or programs, that is the saving power of God for everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). It is the best you have to give anyone. Grasp it firmly. Live it robustly. Give it profligately, in Christ’s Name. And just watch things start to shake and shift.


The Centrality of Christ

“Given that Christ and His cross are central to God, they must be central to the church of God as well. Given that God pivots everything on the person and work of Christ, the church of God should do the same in its preaching, thinking, worship, and practice. To put it bluntly: if we think we have something better to offer, then we think we know something God doesn’t know. Which… dude. Seriously. Whoa. Think about that.”

~ Dan Phillips, The World-Tilting Gospel (Chapter 7, p. 139)

Soundtrack Review: Blood Diamond

Blood Diamond
(Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Composer: James Newton Howard
Running Time: 60 min.
Released: 2006

J.N.H. is one of my favorite composers for a number of reasons – not the least of which is his ability to craft tight, memorable scores that stand well on their own apart from their film counterparts. Blood Diamond is no exception; and at the risk of sounding cliche, I’ll even call it a gem. Fusing elements of a traditional orchestra with a bevy of African instrumentation and choral effects, Howard has produced one of the best works of his career – a marvelously rich musical tapestry full of poignancy, depth, and excitement.

The album opens with Blood Diamond Titles, a quiet piece underscored by the vocals of Senegalese musician Youssou N’Dour. The second track, Crossing the Bridge, gives us a taste of the haunting and tuneful main theme, reiterated throughout the rest of the album. Village Attack is propulsive and intense thanks to an effective use of throbbing percussion and electric guitar; Goodbyes, one the other hand, is soulful and reserved, highlighted by a soft piano melody. With Diamond Mine Bombed, we’re once again treated to a smart, action-oriented cue that kicks into high-gear around the 1:10 mark. The climax of Howard’s score comes with Your Mother Loves You and Thought I’d Never Call?, crowned by the breathtaking London, in which the main theme is fleshed out to its fullest. Also included on the album (separate from Howard’s score) are three African songs – Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars’ Ankala, Emmanuel Lai’s Baai, and Bal Burea’s When da Dawgs Come Out to Play. The first two are decent enough and fun to listen to, but the third (as you can probably tell from the title) is just plain obnoxious, sticking out like a sore thumb on an otherwise perfect soundtrack.