Joe McGee, the Association Missions Director of the Consolation Baptist Association, has hit a bases loaded home run with his recent book Authentic Salvation. When I was in college, I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship; and it had a profound impact upon my life. In the midst of WWII, the great German pastor, who was executed in the German concentration camp in Flossenburg, was asked how it was possible for the Church to sit back and let Hitler seize absolute power.
Bonhoeffer answered, “It was the teaching of cheap grace. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession - -- Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”
I fear that perhaps the greatest problem in the church today is that we have a great majority of unregenerate church members. As I was reading McGee’s book on several occasions I thought of the great black spiritual song, “Everybody talkin’ about heaven ain’t goin’ there.” Unregenerate church members dilute the significance of the church and compromise the impact of the church upon society.
McGee boldly zeros in on the topic of sin with a laser focus in the first section of the book. Almost 50 years ago Karl Menninger wrote a book entitled, “Whatever Became of Sin?” and essentially stated the word and notion of sin almost disappeared years ago. If you add Menninger’s perception of sin’s absence from all social conversations in 1973 to the emergence of the doctrine of tolerance today, you basically have an antinomian society. McGee’s book prompted me to do a thorough job of introspection as I read what he had to say about the meaning, nature and consequences of sin.
The author also beautifully details the truth about the atonement. He rightly asserts that preachers don’t get passionate enough when speaking of the atonement and the church members do not affirm the pastors who do preach with fervor. The message of the cross deserves acceptance, love, obedience and occasionally a hearty “Amen”! Adrian Rogers said, “We have too much ho hum Christianity today. Most worship services today inspire us to do little more than yawn in the face of God.” If the message of the cross does not thrill your soul, you may have a heart problem.
In Authentic Salvation McGee gives a fair and honest assessment of the Arminian and Calvinist views of soteriology or the doctrine of salvation. Some authors in addressing these views go down deep, stay down long and come up dry. McGee provides a thorough study of these issues, but his exposition is wise, clear and thought provoking. In his final chapter the author makes a plaintive appeal for all to be saved – those who are lost both in and out of the church.
I suspect that McGee’s book is the result of a lifetime of experience in ministry and a consistent study of God’s Word. The book is poignant, powerful and practical. Buy copies for those who are lost and those who may only think they are saved. By the way, read it yourself. McGee’s words will give you much to think about and will either result in your spiritual revitalization or in your spiritual regeneration.