Reviewed by: Tyler C. Detrick
Radically Whole: Gospel Healing for the Divided Heart, by David Gibson. Crossway, 2022. Paperback, 216 pages, $15.97 (Amazon). Reviewed by OP pastor Tyler C. Detrick.
Remember when Martin Luther called the book of James an “epistle of straw”? Well, Dr. David Gibson, minister of Trinity Church in Aberdeen, Scotland, offers an unequivocal response in his recently published book. In Radically Whole: Gospel Healing for the Divided Heart, Gibson declares that “Luther was wrong” (25). Gibson assigns proper dignity to James’s epistle, and he does so in such a way that challenges our churches to heed its call to wholeness in Christ.
Readers must understand what they’re getting into when they open Gibson’s book. Radically Whole is not an in-depth study of James, and those searching for a verse-by-verse exposition should turn to other resources. Rather, this book is an exploration of the concept of wholeness as that grand theme weaves its way through the book of James. As Gibson guides readers through different sections of James, he pauses here and there to address exegetical issues, but he is most concerned with showing how the different parts of the book of James present a single cure to the fallen condition that he calls double-mindedness. The result is a devotional ensemble that is both biblically helpful and pastorally sensitive.
Indeed, Radically Whole helps us to understand James’s epistle. Many readers tend to get “lost” in James’s writing as he jumps from topic to topic; yet Gibson finds the golden thread that ties the whole book together. Simply put, the book of James is a “lovingly prescribed course in wholeness” (14). Sin renders us “split personalities,” torn between love for God and love for the world, but God’s design in the book of James is to knit us back together again with the gospel (64). While Gibson may not be the first writer to observe this unifying theme of the epistle, he has done the church a great service by explaining it in such a convincing way.
Gibson’s book also helps us to understand ourselves. Why do we love things that God says are evil? Why do we talk about God’s Word but seldom put it into practice? Why are we “happy to cheat on God?” (36). These are the kinds of issues that Christians struggle with daily, and Gibson understands that. With pastoral precision, he asks questions that make us squirm, and then he tenderly leads us to the Savior. He even includes “words to the sensitive” throughout his book so that his readers receive his admonitions in the proper sense. How pastorally perceptive!
If you struggle with inward dividedness (and who doesn’t?), then this book will offer you hope. Radically Whole: Gospel Healing for the Divided Heart will reintroduce you to James and show you how God’s Word speaks to your divided heart to bring healing and wholeness in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
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