- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Baker Books (May 3, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080100859X
- ISBN-13: 978-0801008597
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 36 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #918,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Unparalleled: How Christianity's Uniqueness Makes It Compelling Paperback – May 3, 2016
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From the Back Cover
Aren't all religions basically the same?
That's a popular notion these days. It's also a convenient way to avoid the ultimate questions we all must answer. If all religions are the same, then there's no reason to choose one over another beyond what fits into our already busy lives or what suits our particular tastes. But what if that assumption is fundamentally flawed? What if Christianity is not merely one among many similar options? What if it is categorically different? Wouldn't that fact alone make it worth another look?
In Unparalleled, Jared C. Wilson reveals how Christianity alone answers the deepest longings of every human heart, compelling us to take a second look and to consider the Christian faith in a drastically new light.
One of these things is not like the others. And the difference matters--for eternity.
"Unparalleled will deepen your understanding and appreciation for the Christian faith--so unique and distinctive."--Kyle Idleman, author of Not a Fan; teaching pastor of Southeast Christian Church
"Jared skillfully reminds us that, through Jesus, the Christian faith is sustained by grace and meets our needs at every level."--Caleb Kaltenbach, author of Messy Grace; lead pastor of Discovery Church
"Like handling a diamond, Jared turns to the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith, shining light on the edges that come together to make Christianity unique."--Trevin Wax, managing editor of The Gospel Project; author of Gospel-Centered Teaching, Clear Winter Nights, and Counterfeit Gospels
Jared C. Wilson is the director of content strategy for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and managing editor of For the Church, Midwestern's new site for gospel-centered resources. He is the author of several books, including Your Jesus Is Too Safe, The Storytelling God, The Prodigal Church, and Gospel Wakefulness. His blog, The Gospel-Driven Church, is hosted by the Gospel Coalition, and he speaks at numerous churches and conferences throughout the year. Wilson lives in Kansas City.
About the Author
Jared C. Wilson is the director of content strategy for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and managing editor of For the Church, Midwestern's new site for gospel-centered resources. He is the author of several books, including Your Jesus Is Too Safe, The Storytelling God, The Prodigal Church, and Gospel Wakefulness. His writing has appeared in Tabletalk, Rev! magazine, Exponential's Leadership Learnings, Pulpit Helps magazine, and numerous other publications. His blog, The Gospel-Driven Church, is hosted by the Gospel Coalition and he speaks at numerous churches and conferences throughout the year. Wilson lives in Kansas City.
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In the area of beliefs and faith, Christians have always spoken about the uniqueness of their faith. When confronted with the idea that all paths lead to God, Christians will swiftly respond by saying that Christianity is unique as it stands in the lineup alongside all of the other major world religions. Jared Wilson takes this idea a step further in his book “Unparalleled” by saying that the uniqueness of Christianity is also the thing that makes it so compelling.
Out of the gate, Wilson writes that, “Christianity has never made converts primarily by winning arguments but rather by capturing hearts.” Although this book falls into the category of apologetics, Wilson isn’t out to win arguments, he is convinced that the truths of Christianity will be as compelling for others as they have been for him. He writes with a style that doesn’t beat down, but gently leads along.
Throughout “Unparalleled” Wilson hits on some of the main, unique tenets of Christianity. He writes about the Trinity, the three persons of God, speaking to their uniqueness and how the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit give us a better understanding of our own human need for connection and intimacy.
Wilson writes of the uniqueness of Jesus, asking the question as to whether the God of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam is the same God. He arrives at the conclusion that, “…to worship God at the exclusion of Jesus is to worship another god altogether.” For those who are seeking to be more inclusive, this conclusion will not be very appealing. Wilson goes on to write, “If one does not affirm that Jesus is God, one does not worship the same God as Christians.” It is through the uniqueness of Christ that we understand the essence of Christianity and the salvation that is offered.
We are all created in the image of God, and that, Wilson says, should impact the way that we look at others. Not only should it impact the way that we look at others, but is should also impact how we treat others as well. He writes, “Human life is sacred because God created it in his own image.” But Wilson is quick to point out, acknowledge, and confess that, “There have been too many prominent examples of professing Christians treating others as less-than-human.” In other words, while this is how we should act and view others, we certainly don’t always get it right. I appreciated this admission and the humility behind it.
Wilson covers the idea of grace, salvation, and the end of all things. He speaks to the impact of sin in this fallen world and the fact that salvation within Christian theology is something that comes from outside of ourselves. This external salvation is a unique concept compared to most other major religions who teach of a salvation through the efforts of the individual.
At one point, as Wilson writes about the brokenness of humanity, he writes, “The worst storms I have faced in my life have not occurred outside of me but rather have been found inside of me.” While I think I understand what Wilson is getting at, I’m not sure that I can completely agree with his statement. Yes, I can attest to the fact that, oftentimes, I am my own worst enemy, but in my own life, there have been significant storms that I have encountered that have occurred outside of me. These storms are a result of living in a fallen and broken world, there was no individual cause for some of them, and I would argue that they didn’t happen inside of me.
There is nothing in “Unparalleled” that is groundbreaking or new to me. Wilson has an engaging writing style and he gets his points across with clarity. While I was reading the book, I kept wondering to whom the book was written. Was it written for believers in Christ, those who are already convinced? Was it written to those who need to be convinced? It seems that it could be beneficial for those who are searching, not yet having come to the conclusion that Christianity is both convincing and compelling.
To those who believe in Christ and accept the claims of Christianity, Jesus is unparalleled, as is the salvation that he offers. If you are in a place of searching, needing to be convinced of Christianity’s claims, this might give you an overview or a snapshot of these claims. There are far deeper and more exhaustive books on the claims of Christianity that may serve you better, but for a basic overview, this might work. It’s not a must read, in my opinion, and anyone who is seeking something more academic may best be served elsewhere.
(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Baker Books. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)
If you haven’t read Jared C. Wilson’s books before, here’s what you need to know: you’re going to get the gospel, every time, all the time. It doesn’t matter what subject is being addressed — apologetics, pastoral ministry, biblical studies — it’s all about the gospel. Wilson is the author of acclaimed Gospel Deeps, which I think is a good summary of his writing style.
Chances are, however, that if you’re reading this review, you have read at least one of Wilson’s books. If you fall into this camp, here’s what you need to know about Unparalleled: it is arguably Wilson’s most readable and clear presentation of the core doctrines of the gospel message all tied into one. Wilson is an artist gifted enough to write on many subjects, and in a lot of ways he draws from his other books to help them build his points in Unparalleled. I would go as far as to say that the book itself is unparalleled among Wilson’s others, but it’s too hard to definitively choose one (at least for right now).
What makes this book so strong is that Wilson is not afraid to shy away from tough doctrinal matters, like the Trinity, the Incarnation, and eschatology. Many writers who seek to take on laying out the gospel story want to stick to a “Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration” model while skirting some of the more difficult matters, but Wilson doesn’t. He knows that understanding these topics are critical to the gospel message, and for showing how they make Christianity so gloriously unique. One of my favorite chapters is his chapter on the Trinity, “When 1+1+1 = 1.” One of Wilson’s main points is that the Trinity “is the reason we crave relational intimacy” (61). The community of the Trinity is not only plausible, but it’s the only possible explanation for God given His attributes. Wilson expounds:
Think about it. A solitary god cannot be love. He may learn to love. He may yearn for love. But he cannot in himself be love, because love requires an object. Real love requires relationship. In the doctrine of the Trinity we finally see how love is part of the fabric of creation; it is essential to the eternal, need-nothing Creator. From eternity past, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have been in community, in relationship. They have loved each other. That loving relationship is bound up in the very nature of God himself. If God were not a Trinity but merely a solitary divinity, he could neither be love nor be God! (67)
Wilson not only gets deep into the gospel story, but he also takes on some of the popular arguments against the exclusivity of the gospel. He tackles the notion of Jesus being just a good teacher, the entire subject of Chapter 5. Throughout the book he contrasts the Judaism and Islam conception of God from the Christian conception of God. He even has an incredible chapter on why the doctrine of grace is itself an apologetic (Chapter 8). Wilson’s compelling argument throughout the book is that “Christianity is unparalleled because Jesus Christ is” (229). If Jesus truly did exist, and did the things the Bible says He did, no argument stands a chance in derailing Him.
Whether you’re trying to discern the tangible differences between Christianity and other religions, or want to learn how to better put words to your arguments for many of the central tenants of Christianity, do not hesitate to pick up this book. As Jason Duesing put it best, “As good as Wilson's books are to date, and they are good, here he is clearly in his writing prime.” I totally agree. Grab a copy of Unparalleled and be marveled at the glory of God’s good news.
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