Counsel from the Cross

Oh. My. Word. The short version is BUY THIS BOOK.

Here’s the longer version. I have written much about my concern over pink, fluffy bunny Bible studies. I have often called for a gospel-centered approach to women’s ministry. And stupidly, I thought I was mostly alone (at least in terms of a gospel centered hermeneutic aimed particularly at women). Several commenters have recommended after such posts that I read Elyse Fitzpatrick’s books. Since she’s a Crossway author and I’m a Crossway author, I asked for her books and received Because He Loves Me,  Comforts from the Cross, and Counsel from the Cross.  I have started Because He Loves Me but am focusing my attention mostly on Counsel from the Cross: Connecting Broken People to the Love of Christ

Wow.  Just wow.  I’m only in the early chapters, but Elyse and co-author Dennis Johnson drew me in immediately with the premise and their thought provoking introduction.  The illustration in Chapter 1 of how to apply the gospel to the hurting mom is alone worth the price of the book (which to be clear, I got for free).  “Madeline” is a homeschooling mom who sacrificed everything to train her children to love God only to have her teenage daughter get pregnant after going behind her back to be with her boyfriend.  The mom is crushed and terribly angry with her daughter.  She sacrificed her life to train her daughter  — for this?!!  Elyse and Dennis walk us through how the gospel informs our view of God, our view of ourselves, and our view of others.  They show specifically in Madeline’s scenario how the gospel corrects Madeline’s views of God (He’s not tallying up merit based on her or her kid’s performance.  He loves His children unconditionally), how the gospel corrects her view of herself (she too is a sinner in need of Christ’s sacrifice;  she too is God’s beloved daughter free from attempting to earn her Father’s favor by her good works or her children’s status in her community), and how the gospel corrects her view of her daughter (her daughter is a sinner but too a precious daughter of God.  Her life is affected by this pregnanacy, but her status before God and in His Body is not).  In some ways everything has changed for Madeline.  But in a much more expansive, supernatural sense, nothing has changed.  And at some point, as Madeline comes to terms with exactly who she is in Christ, she will be free to examine, though only through gospel grace, if some of her parenting techniques provoked secrecy and dishonesty in her daughter.  By the end of this illustration, I had MUCH on which to think, ponder, meditate, and self examine just in CHAPTER ONE!! 

I confess I’m only on Chapter 2.  But if I really like a book, I can never hold back talking about it here until I’m done.  I will probably post a follow up review when I’m finished reading it all.  But for now, this looks like the kind of book I will read, highlight every other sentence, and go back to reread as soon as I’m done.  In other words, I highly recommend it.

7 Responses to Counsel from the Cross

  1. Melissa B. July 8, 2010 at 7:03 am #

    I didn't realize Dennis co-wrote this… I used to babysit his kids when my father attended Westminster West and still see him sometimes when he and Jane come to the theatre I work with. I'm eager to check out the book! So far I have appreciate each of your recommendations.

  2. Diane July 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    Wendy, I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!I am on my 3rd time reading it! I am leading a discussion of this book with a couple of young moms from my church. It is SUCH a great book! I recommend it highly to EVERYONE! 🙂

  3. rosemary July 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    Ordered it from Monergism Books. We've recommended EF's books to many, and I have the feeling that this one is going to move to the top of the list. Thanks for the reminder to get it!

  4. Laurie! July 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    Wow this sounds like a fantastic book! I'm going to have to add it to my list of to-reads!

  5. Bina July 10, 2010 at 3:58 am #

    I love Elyse Fitzpatrick! Got a chance to hear her speak last year at a conference. It was awesome!!

  6. Tracey July 20, 2010 at 5:50 pm #

    My husband and I are currently reading this book as well. Ditto on the highlighting every other sentence and reading again, Wendy! I am on chapter 4 and it's been really insightful so far not only in leading others to see the gospel in their situations, but definitely thinking about how I myself approach the throne of grace in day to day life. I look forward to seeing your further reviews.

  7. Lisa writes... August 6, 2010 at 7:16 pm #

    I've read it; I need to read it again! I definitely second your exhortation to BUY and READ this book!