A Review of
The Very Good Gospel:
How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right
Lisa Sharon Harper
This review originally appeared in
our Fall 2016 print magazine
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Lisa Sharon Harper’s The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right is the book for which I have been waiting. In a world desperately in need of some truly good news, the church’s responses are often lacking. The gospel must respond meaningfully to the deadly and debilitating forces that erupt around us. Yet the gospel so often proclaimed is, as Harper terms it, thin. This thin gospel succinctly describes salvation as an individual’s restored relationship with God. The end goal of this salvation is equally simple: to be saved means to secure one’s place in heaven after death. Harper weaves together her experiences with church and life, theological and biblical insights, and current cultural and statistical data in order to thicken our understanding of salvation and gospel. What emerges is a truly holistic depiction of God’s cosmic salvation. Harper enriches the message and work of the gospel by focusing attention on the Hebrew word shalom, roughly translated as “peace.” God’s salvation, in which shalom is the reality, includes all aspects of life. Shalom, Harper reminds us, is inherently relational. True peace, salvation, has to do with the actual and concrete reconciliation of all things with their Creator and each other.