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Review – An agenda for change – Zondervan

July 2008 | by Nathan Pomeroy

An agenda for change

Joel Edwards

Zondervan; 137 pages; £7:99

ISBN: 978-0-310-28371-3

Joel Edwards has completed ten years as General Secretary of the 7000 churches and 750 organisations of the UK Evangelical Alliance. He is currently touring the country for six months promoting his book

     The first section, ‘Preaching Christ credibly to the twenty-first century’, sees the importance of presenting the biblical Christ – but according to Edwards, Christ must first be made credible by our social action. Prayer and miracles are also important.

     The second section, ‘Rehabilitating “Evangelical” as good news’, divides the evangelical family into three camps – left, right, and centre. He asserts that no camp has the right to define ‘evangelical’, yet we are told definitively that ‘evangelicalism is not orthodoxy’.

     The third section, ‘Engaging in spiritual and social transformation’, while not denying conversion as our ultimate goal (spiritual transformation), prioritises social action (social transformation).

     There are many good assertions in the book but sadly they are overshadowed by two underlying errors.

     Firstly, Edwards associates rationality with the outdated culture of modernity rather than seeing it as a consequence of the image of God in man, an image which the gospel renews and the church reveals.

     He thus revels in ambiguity and paradox, and avoids careful biblical and rational analysis. This downgrading of rationality is also reflected in ecumenical engagement – Edwards doesn’t see a problem with putting unity above truth. His idealised church would be happy for a Muslim or Hindu to address them on a Sunday morning.

     Secondly, Edwards appears to redefine the gospel – the book’s subtitle is, ‘A global call for spiritual and social transformation’. This dual emphasis has been called ‘holism’ – the idea that evangelism and social action are equal partners in the church’s mission.

     However, the biblical emphasis has always been


Nathan Pomeroy