Book Review - All Nations Under God
In earlier reviews I have mentioned my increasing and generally well-founded suspicion of books that have been self-published. The internet has made it possible for just about anyone with a few thousand dollars (and sometimes even less) to produce a book that looks both legitimate and professional. Yet hard experience has shown that often these books display a distinct lack of professionalism as they are sometimes replete with spelling mistakes and poor grammar. Many of them are little more than 200-page rants. I am rarely surprised, when I read these books, that they have been turned down by traditional publishers. But there are exceptions. The Story of Joseph and Judah (my review) was an exception, and I am glad to say that All Nations Under God by Mike Beasley is as well.
Beasley is pastor of Pilgrim Bible Church in Winston Salem, North Carolina. He was trained at The Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley California and has been a pastor since 1994. In that time he has seen waves of attack fall upon the doctrine of the atonement, surely one of the most important doctrines in Scripture. There is much at stake in this battle, for “without this important doctrine, Christ’s sheep will become spiritually malnourished, emaciated, weak, and filled with despair… The end result is that many in the church are weakened, disoriented, distracted; many are busy fighting battles which offer no real victories for anyone” (24, author’s emphasis). “The purpose of this book,” he writes, “is quite simple: to give glory to God our Savior and thus foster a greater love among the church of God for the One who purchased our pardon—the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. The means to this very important end will consist of delving into the joyful celebration of Christ’s victorious work of atonement” (25).
Beasley begins by defining the atonement, teaching what is often missed in such discussions: that the greatest purpose for which we have been redeemed is so that we could be presented as a gift from the Son to the Father. We are saved first and foremost by the purpose of God and for the glory of God. Thus we are a reason, not the reason that Christ died for us. He discusses the intent versus the extent of the atonement, but premises the discussion on the statement that “Christ’s sacrifice on the cross bore no failure, but was an immutable victory accomplished by the Son, for the Father” (31). The cross was, then, a complete and total victory, and a victory of the Son’s love for the Father even more than a victory of God’s love for us.
An entire chapter of All Nations Under God is dedicated to applying this doctrine to the life of the believer. This was a strong chapter and one that proves that Beasley believes this is an issue that is not to be relegated to the academy and is not an issue that is purely theoretical. Rather, this is an issue that, if ignored, can lead to dire consequences to individual believers and to Christianity as a whole. Conversely, if Christians turn to Scripture and trust what the Bible tells us about the atonement, it will lead to stronger individuals, a stronger church, and God will be honored.
The final two chapters challenge Christians to examine their tradition and ensure that tradition is not governing their understanding of the atonement. The book concludes with a reflection on adoring Christ forever. Beasley states that at the day of judgment “no one will complain that the number of saints in heaven are too few; instead, the children of God will all marvel that the Lord was graciously willing to save any at all; and our sense of wonder will be overwhelmed by the sight of, not a few, but a countless number of the redeemed, whom the Lord saved for His own glory and good pleasure” (143).
All Nations Under God was a pleasant surprise. It does a good job of presenting a biblical, Reformed understanding of the atonement, both its intent and extent. It was reasonably easy to read despite a few Greek words and the occasional sentence diagram. Still, it is written to be read and understood by those, like myself, who do not necessarily have degrees in theology. I always feel like I am sticking my neck out when I recommend a book dealing with a specific point of theology, but in this case I believe I am safe in doing so, for this book continually returns to Scripture. It does what it claims: it celebrates the eternal victory of our Lord and Savior.