Review: EXPERIENCING THE POWER OF THE CROSS
I've had a run of "good luck" lately in my book review hobby - finding books that I didn't have much hope for, and finding pleasant and challenging and encouraging surprises inside. It's happened again with Gary Kinnaman's Experiencing the Power of the Cross (copyright 2005, Bethany House Publishers). Looking for a typical treatise on Christianity and its dependency on the death, burial and resurrection, I was struck by how Kinnaman takes it another direction: looking at the relational power, the interaction between us and God and between us and each other, that comes from the cross and the life of Jesus lived out among us.
One of the concepts I've heard before is "believe into" Jesus and His kingdom here, not just "believe in" Christ for your salvation. Opening with this thought, I think the book does a good job fleshing that out in prose a bit. (p. 29)
Faith is a plunge into the real. Faith changes our reality by allowing us to look at what cannot be seen. As we think about the power of faith, however, I want to make something clear: For the Christian, faith is not some cosmic power equally accessible to all living beings, some force I can use to bend spoon handles this way and my future that way.In a world that can be wishy-washy about faith and what it means to believe in Christ, I couldn't have said it better myself.
Biblical faith is antithetical to the popular New Age idea that faith is power to reach your dreams. If you just visualize it... if you just say it... no, the object of our faith is the person of Christ alone, His word, His reality. Faith is not believing for what I want but living my life as though everything God says in His Word is alethia: the truth, the ultimate reality. Faith has no intrinsic power, but Jesus does! Faith opens our hearts, and releases the supernatural power of God into our world.
I appreciate how Kinnaman uses the metaphors of the Matrix movies, stories of his own life, and scripture (he was really stuck on Hebrews 10 as he wrote the book) to write a challenging and still encouraging, and is fairly removed from the typical "sunday school answers" we normally ponder when thinking of Jesus' death and atonement. Real forgiveness is such a huge thing; real guilt and conviction leading to real freedom and release is such a real thing.
Humans naturally know nothing of this unconditional grace, and world religions know nothing of this comprehensive, no-strings-attached God-forgiveness, but it's the pillar of the new covenant in Christ's blood. God forgets because forgiveness is self-imposed amnesia. It's not that He can't recall the facts of your life, good and bad, but if and when He does think of your sins, it is totally and completely without any effect on how He thinks of you. (p. 89, emphasis mine)I think there's much to learn about the impact of the Cross on our world today, and I appreciate that Kinnaman has written a book to at least start the conversation, to add some new stories to the anthology, to add some new insight to the old metaphors, and to challenge us in living in Christ's reality by real and meaningful faith in Him.