Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel by Russell Moore is an impassioned, challenging "call to arms" for the soldiers of the Christian kingdom. Onward is a challenging read, not because it isn't written well; it most definitely is. On the contrary, the paragraphs require reading and sometimes re-reading to fully comprehend the totality of this very important message, which is the authentic advancement of the Kingdom of God, not for political or social gain, but purely for the mission of spreading the true, authentic, non-watered down message of Jesus Christ. Moore encourages the reader to rejoice in the fact that we, as Christians, are no longer considered the moral majority and to embrace the call of the counterculture. Wear the emblem of "Jesus Freak" or "Rebel" with pride, but pride that is bathed in the merciful truth that we are nothing without the grace of God.
Moore also encourages the reader to remember who the true enemy is. Oftentimes, as believers, we get this wrong. We find ourselves screaming at the top of our lungs at the WRONG combatant, wasting a lot of time and energy in the process. The song, "Onward Christian Soldiers", is mentioned in the Conclusion of the book. I, too, went to Vacation Bible School and marched in behind the flags and partook of the watered down kool-aid and stale cookies as Moore so eloquently describes. The lyrics of the old hymn are as follows:
Really, the lyrics sum up the book beautifully. One of my favorite passages from the book is as follows:
"Let's work together for something new, and for something old: the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven, gathered in churches of transformed people, reconciled to one another, on mission with one another, holding together the authentic gospel of Jesus Christ."
I recommend this book to anyone in church leadership, but also to those who want to dig deep into something relevant, those who want a great launch for authentic discussion about the true state of the church today. As the mother of two tweens I appreciated the message of hope, as opposed to the all too prevalent "doomsday" message of the future. Our children can start putting on the armor NOW to prepare for what God only knows lay ahead, but not the armor made of "Politically Correct Bullet-Proof" rubbermaid; instead the true armor made of the real stuff, the indestructable gospel of Jesus Christ.
This book is 240 pages and contains 10 chapters with a conclusion included at the end of each one, which is very helpful from a summary standpoint. The eloquent wrapping up ennables the reader to mentally review and summarize the dynamic message of each chapter.
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.