Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Book Review: "The Great Dance: The Christian Vision Revisited"
By C. Baxter Kruger
The first thing that I must say about this book is that it has affected my spiritual orientation at a pretty deep level. As I was reading “The Great Dance” for the first time (I have read it twice) I sensed what I have come to call a “glow of hope” in my heart. I say this because for the last few years I have felt little hope…I have become disillusioned with the evangelical church and it’s dogma. Not only the doctrinal dogma, but also the political orientation of church governance has had a devastating impact on me and my family…as a result, I have tried to maintain my walk with God, seeking to become more intimate with the real person of Jesus. And so as I read this book, my heart rejoiced in the message that Kruger was writing.
Early on in the book, Kruger talks about his sense of God in life…even as a boy. He says: “For me there was simply an abiding and indisputable awareness that something vast and deep and ancient and beautiful is moving through the scenes of human life. For me it was a given that human beings are part of something magnificent, that there is an invisible river of sorts running through our lives, that we are part of a great dance. I do not know how I came by this knowledge. It was always just there. It never occurred to me to question it. To do so would have been a violation of something more real to me than my own existence.”
He takes us on a little autobiographical tour of how he ended up studying theology at King’s College at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. It was there, studying under Professor J.B. Torrance that he came into a fuller knowledge of what this “river of sorts running through our lives” is really all about. To him it had become more of a Great Dance of the eternal God existing and enjoying love and communion in the persons of the Trinity…a Great Dance that we all of humans are not just invited to be a part of, but are, in reality already participating in to a lesser or greater degree. He says: “The goal of the Trinity is inclusion. The purpose of the Father, Son and Spirit in creation is to draw us within the circle of their shared life so that we too can experience it with them. Lest you think that this is some “new” doctrine, Kruger freely quotes from the early church father St. Athanasius, and also from contemporary thinkers like C. S. Lewis and George MacDonald.
Speaking of the current and predominant presentation of the gospel that is promoted weekly in the established evangelical church Kruger writes: “In this typical packaging of the Western gospel, several things have gone disastrously wrong. First, the overall picture has been lost. Gone is the great dance of the Trinity and the astonishing vision of the Father, Son and Spirit reaching out to share their life and glory with us. In its place, we have a divine legalist who is extremely upset over human failure and sin, and we have Jesus coming to rescue us. There is no way to escape the devastating notion implicit here that Jesus come to rescue us from God. The death of Jesus Christ is now aimed at God rather than at human corruption and alienation. Jesus comes to do something to God, to satisfy his white-gloved legalities, even to change God so that we can be forgiven.”
A summary sentence of what is contained in “The Great Dance” could be that the gospel is the declaration of factual truth…something that has already happened to, and for us, rather than a conditional invitation to escape damnation.
“The gospel is not an invitation. The gospel is a declaration of the truth. It declares to us that we have been recreated in Jesus, that we have been delivered from evil in Jesus Christ, that we have been given a new relationship with the Father in Jesus Christ. The gospel declares to us that in the incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension of the Son of God, we were taken down and cleansed of all alienation; we were refashioned, recreated, born again; and we were lifted up into the circle of life shared by the Father, So and Spirit, and there and then included in the great dance of the Triune God. Because it was no ordinary man who died and rose again and ascended. It was the incarnate Son of God, the one in and through and by whom all things exist.”
I could go on giving more excerpts from this wonderful little book…Kruger does a wonderful job of setting these truths in such a way so that they are understandable and grounded in our everyday lives. If you are thirsty for a deeper rest and joy in your relationship with God…if you want to understand the purpose of creation, the incarnation, and Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension…I would encourage you to consider the message of freedom and peace that C. Baxter Kruger gives us in “The Great Dance”.