Reunion: The Good News of Jesus for Seekers, Saints, and Sinners
Reviewed by Fred Redekop
I like Bruxy Cavey. I have heard him preach at his church (The MeetingHouse) in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. In the church, where I was pastor for 25 years, we sometimes used his podcast sermons for our bible studies. His church has raised much money for work in Africa, bringing great hope to people. He has been a great teaching pastor for the MeetingHouse model of being church.
Re(union ) is his newest book. It is published by Herald Press, the publishing arm of the Mennonite church. The book is a longer evangelistic pamphlet. The book is biased toward for the reader to believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord. With this orientation, it is like the four Gospels of the New Testament. They are written for the readers to believe in what the writers have written.
In the book, he invites us to think about whether we are sinner, saint or seeker. He does it twice, once in the first chapter, and then at the end of the book. These concepts frame the book in a manner similar to the Hebrew tradition of writing. This book has many biblical references from the New and Old Testaments.
I am of course all three types of believer. But if I was forced to choose, … I would say “sinner”. I am a broken person in need of forgiveness from God and from other persons. I have been a pastor for over thirty years, and yet still come up short . Bruxy ( It seems strange to use his last name as a reference ) mentions this thought twice, so I will return to it later on in the review
Cavey describes the Gospel in one word, three words and thirty words. The one word is “Jesus”. He makes the statement that following Jesus is not about religion, it is about a relationship with Jesus. (An earlier book by Bruxy was entitled The End of Religion). He describes who Jesus is, and gives some examples about Jesus’ life here on the earth.
Then, the Gospel in three words is “Jesus is Lord. “ If you accept Jesus as Lord, then you must follow him in life. It is not only about believing in order to get to heaven, but it about acting out your faith. Bruxy offers an example in explanation: the motto for the game of “Othello” is “ a minute to learn and a lifetime to master.” He is stating here that you can believe, but to follow Jesus is a lifelong journey.
At this point in the book, he invites you to stop reading. He has presented in the book about the one word gospel and the three word Gospel. He talks about the simplicity of the Gospel, and then the intricacy of the Gospel. I chose not to put the book down. Since the book could be seen as an evangelical tract, these two short explanations might be good starting points for conversation with people who have left the church, or who have never entered the church.
Bruxy states that Part II of the book is going to go deeper. He gives us the Gospel in thirty words. He first explains different attempts by other people and groups to talk about salvation. His examples different ways pare down the Gospel message to get at the heart of it. Then, on page 70, he give his thirty words, “Jesus is God with us, come to show us God’s love , save us from sin, set up God’s kingdom, and shut down religion, so we can share in God’s life.” I think this statment is theologically correct, but I prefer one and three words.
In Part II , Bruxy gives us his theological point of view. It is well thought out and I believe it to be Anabaptist in its orientation. After all, he is part of that tradition of Christianity. I have been a pastor for 30 years, and have read much of what he is trying to explain here in the book, and I agree with him. I really appreciate his emphasis on pacifism and his non-emphasis on heaven or the hereafter. He is thoroughly biblical, and this brings me back to Jesus , his one word for the Gospel. Part II is the longest part of the book, and I needed to do at least three readings on it before I could comment more on the theology.
As in a good sermon, Bruxy ends with and, “Now what “. This book needs to make a difference in your life, or it is just words. What are you going to do with the one word, the three words and the 30 words? He talks about sinner, saint and seeker again as he begins the final chapter. The reader then is invited to make a commitment to follow the Jesus that is outlined in the book. He wants us to say “I do” in a prayer, or in a second prayer that is about not being quite sure, but inviting God to be a part of your journey.
In the final part of the book, he says that we should do the following ten things: Tell somebody [ about Jesus] , go to church, share the book, start a group, read it again, get baptized, talk daily [ with Jesus], cultivate awareness, serve Jesus through others, and put on the new you. He introduces them by saying, “This isn’t a ‘to do’ list, as much as a “to be” list. Turning our faith into action is how we become our true selves.” All of these things are good things to be as a Christian, but I experienced it as overwhelming. I know Bruxy says it is a to be list. I know that he did not mean to do them all right away, but it seemed to be too many things to be about.
In my childhood, I was spiritually harmed by a person in the church. I know that he wanted me to be a Christian, but the way that he did it, was terrifying to my young soul. When Bruxy talks about the “Four Spiritual Laws” I was reminded it was one of the evangelistic tools that used in my church. In the book, I was impressed by the positive images that the writer uses to invite people to follow Jesus, and as I mentioned earlier I also appreciate the focus on the here and now, and not so much on heaven.
Bruxy asks us to tell somebody about Jesus in one of his “to be” items. I like the one word Gospel of “Jesus” so I will invite Jesus to tell me something about me, rather than about someone else. I must allow the words of Jesus to be my guide for me, and then someone else might just overhear (Fred Craddock’s words) the Gospel for the first time, again.
Fred Redekop resigned as pastor from Floradale Mennonite in Ontario in August of 2016. He is working and seeking his next calling.