What would happen if (God help you) you pulled one of those lurid, wide-eyed tabloids off the newsstand at the grocery checkout and started reading, only to find out by the time you reached the back cover you’d just read a gospel tract, repented of several sins, and recommitted your life to Christ?
What if the stunning insight into human psychology of C.S. Lewis crash landed into a P.G. Wodehouse novel, which (somehow) managed to be about a major sex scandal in an American evangelical megachurch?
What if a faithful Christian pastor of over 30 years, immersed in evangelical Christianity (as well as Lewis, Wodehouse, and Chesterton) wrote a reality television show for MTV that could possibly spark a true reformation in America?
Well, somehow, that’s exactly what Doug Wilson has done with his recent novel Evangellyfish.
One part Wodehouse Reality Television, one part Lewis on the human heart, one part parable, and one part altar call, I finished the book (having laughed and cringed repeatedly), and realized that I had also, strangely and wonderfully, been edified.
Seriously: I was blessed, encouraged, built up. It made me love Jesus more, want to love and serve my wife and children more, want to love and serve my people better. And it’s actually a pretty strange phenomenon. How does a story about a sex scandal in some rotten-to-the-core evangelical megachurch do that? How does a fairly simple plot about a fairly average but faithful Reformed Baptist pastor who gets tangled up in the mess, how does that translate into a blessing?
Well, I don’t really know, except that I suspect it has something to do with understanding, really understanding the nature of grace. Grace reaches down into our filth, into our ridiculous folly, into the tangled mess of humanity, and Grace heals, Grace laughs, Grace forgives, Grace humbles, Grace saves.
It’s far easier to say that sort of thing than to actually show it, to actually present it. And honestly I think that’s what Doug has done. And that’s why I say it’s a parable. It takes the grace of Jesus and brings it down into the American evangelical church in a way that is profoundly hopeful, profoundly encouraging.
Of course Doug is one of my good friends, so I’m hardly an unbiased reader, but that doesn’t mean I’m not an uncritical reader (or friend). In fact, just a few weeks ago I was telling him he really needed to get over his fear of sushi and just embrace the goodness of God in seaweed and raw fish. And he still stubbornly holds on to his unsanctified ways.
But don’t hold that against him, and in the meantime, go on over to Canon Press and buy a few copies of Evangellyfish. Everybody on your Christmas list should get one. Seriously, you’ll be blessed.
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