Bradly Jersak’s new book IN—Incarnation & Inclusion, Abba & Lamb appears to target an audience of Evangelicals. It aims to convince the reader of the all-inclusive nature of God by tackling the seemingly contradicting message that Christians spread as “the good news.” That message goes something like this: God loves everyone, but if you don’t accept Jesus as the only way to get to heaven….well, then you’re excluded. But is this true? Jersak explains the dilemma, “Holding the unique revelation of Christ and the inclusive love of our Abba together has never been easy for Christians. We forever corner ourselves into sounding either too broad or too narrow. But in the back of our minds and hearts is an authentic desire to be faithful to the wideness of Abba’s mercy and the singularity of Christ’s Person and work. How do we hold both?” Personally, I don’t need convincing about the inclusive love of God, but since my stray from Evangelicalism, I could use some reassurance about the unique revelation of Christ.
I appreciate that Jersak’s writing is never just his opinion. He endeavors to objectively consider biblical revelation, real-life anecdotes and the writings of the early church fathers. I trust this Patristic Scholar. He understands my inner angst about the incongruities of the theology I was raised on and writes entire books that calm my soul. In his books A More Christlike God–A More Beautiful Gospel and Her Gates Will Never Be Shut, he asks the questions I am too afraid to ask and then answers those questions. IN—Incarnation & Inclusion, Abba & Lamb continues in the same vein.
The book flowed like a river and carried me along. I experienced some rapids in the beginning that prickled my sensitivities and seemed tainted by exclusivism. Not that Jersak himself makes any claims whatsoever that God is in anyway ever excluding of anyone…I’m just extra sensitive about that. But the next section of the book told some real life stories of radical forgiveness. It was like a deep refreshing swimming hole. I dove in, head first. Then the self-protecting dam I had constructed broke. The tears held in the reservoir of distrust that has lately accumulated in my heart came bursting out. The stories he tells illustrate the cruciform nature of God in a revelatory way, “Forgiveness is cruciformity itself.” God’s love, like a river, finds the lowest place. Finally Jersak calls upon the authority of four early church fathers and one modern day Orthodox theologian to say, yes we can hold both the unique revelation of Christ and the inclusive love of our Abba together—without diminishing either. In the end I was carried out to sea and left to float under a cloud of assuring witnesses in the incomprehensible love of The Christ who includes me, and you—all of you!
For me to recommend a theological book it must spark a knowing that goes deeper than intellect. IN—Incarnation & Inclusion, Abba & Lamb by Bradly Jersak meets that criteria. Get the book here.