Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Comforts from Romans: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time, by Elyse Fitzpatrick


Counselor and author Elyse Fitzpatrick's devotional study of the book of Romans. The book is broken up into 32 daily meditations, each under 10 minutes, as well as an introduction and appendices. Fitzpatrick's focus is on, well, the Gospel--specifically, the finished work of Christ on the cross. In fact, she focuses so much on Christ's finished work that she winds up sounding (at least to this recovering legalist) borderline antinomian. Not explicitly antinomian, mind you--she is adamant that the completeness of Christ's work in freeing us from the law should not result in lawlessness. But she is clearly focused on undoing the evils of legalism and salvation by works, the earning of God's favor by our own efforts. And good on her for taking that bull by the horns. But as someone who is all to willing to tolerate my own sin, I know I need a good kick in the pants and a healthy dose of teaching on how to fight the sin from which I have been set free.

To be fair, Fitzpatrick tries to offer teaching on this subject. But her examples--parking in a 'no parking at night' zone--leave much to be desired. If Jesus died so that I no longer have to obey the parking rules, why shouldn't I 'honor' Him by parking wherever I want in a demonstration of the freedom He's given me? But sin is not merely a violation of some silly 'malum prohibitum' rule--it is inherently wrong, and it's wrongness does not change just because of my salvation. I am free from the law--yes! But the law is still a reflection of the character of the God who bought me, and I must strive to honor Him by obeying it. Of course, I don't actually strive. I've much too lazy and self-satisfied for that. But I should. Not because I am earning my salvation. But because my obedience--made possible by His grace and strength--brings glory to the God I love. All of which Fitzpatrick agrees with ... I just would have liked more focus on how to fight sin well. Still, I don't think anything she said was wrong, and all in all, this is a very helpful review of the Gospel.

And unlike the rather in-your-face titling of books like What is the Gospel? or Am I Really a Christian?, Fitzpatrick chose a much more innocuous title. This means that you could easily gift this book to someone who (perhaps mistakenly) self-identifies as a Christian without proclaiming straight-off your doubts about their salvation. If the recipient is a Christian, then Fitzpatrick's meditations will be a great encouragement and reminder of the Gospel that is so dear to Christians. If the recipient is not a Christian, at least they will hear an explicit presentation of the Gospel. Every day. For 32 days.

Narrator Tavia Gilbert (who, according to Audible, has quite a collection of audiobooks under her belt, of both the Christian variety and the ... well, whatever the word is for 'half-naked dude on the cover') does an excellent job here, investing the text with a warmth and enthusiasm that fits well with the celebratory nature of the work. Fitzpatrick is encouraging her readers to savor the Gospel, and Gilbert's tone suits this purpose down to the ground. And at less than 10 minutes a section, the book works well as a daily devotional for those on the go--it fits easily into most commutes or even a brief mid-morning coffee break.

Recommended for those looking for a good daily meditation on the Gospel, or as a gift for those who may need a clearer understanding of the Gospel they claim to believe.

I received this audiobook for free from in connection with their Reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review.

1 comment:

Tavia Gilbert said...

Alexis, thank you so much for the lovely review. I'm glad my narration brought this wonderful and important work to life.

And for the record — I enjoy narrating the soulful, contemplative title most. But your funny phrase about naked dudes on the cover made me giggle.