'The Eclipse of the Gospel' by Frank Allred

Each Christmas I suggest a book to the leaders in our parish. Over 40 usually respond. This year I will be pushing Frank Allred’s book The Eclipse of the Gospel.

Written for lay folk and ministers alike, it has a very readable style and rich content. It is full of helpful illustrations from Frank’s own experience and pastoral ministry. It not only warms the heart but challenges complacency and cowardice within evangelical circles.

A loss of nerve

The thesis of the book is that as evangelicals we have lost our nerve in the church by allowing the central doctrines of our faith to be sidelined by experience-controlled religion that panders to felt needs. Frank Allred argues that one of our greatest needs now is to restore Biblical holiness. He writes: ‘Experience that is not Bible-based, that is to say, does not arise from an understanding of what God has done for us, does not promote holiness in any way.’ What is required, he maintains, is a shift from experience-centred teaching that pleases self, to holiness-centred teaching that pleases God.

Addressing head-on the controversial subject of miracles, he asks: ‘What can be more supernatural than a life redeemed from the power of sin and transformed into the likeness of Christ?’ The life of one saint is a more powerful witness to the truth of the gospel than a thousand miracles.

Truly evangelical?

You may not agree with all of this book. It may well unsettle you and send you back to your Bible and to your knees in prayer. The author’s heartfelt desire is to bring us back to the Bible and therefore to the God of the Bible. The great divide in evangelicalism today is not between charismatics and non-charismatics. The great divide is between those whose life and ministry are shaped by the Bible and those for whom this is merely theory.

Frank Allred’s book will challenge us to say whether we are truly evangelical or not, because all true evangelicals will be concerned, first and foremost, with the gospel. If that gospel is being eclipsed, as the writer argues, there cannot be anything more urgent for evangelicals to address

Steve Donald, Evangelicals Now, Nov 2001