Caution. If you or your church doesn’t take the Great Commission seriously, this book will either be the catalyst to a whole new way of living or a weight that will never leave you. You can’t walk away from this book unchanged or unconvinced…just unwilling.
Joey Shaw’s All Authority sets the kingdom mandate of the Great Commission as simply that: a command given to you by the God of the universe who has the authority to command you to do it and the authority to empower you to do it. The beginnings of the book comes from his church’s (The Austin Stone) mission to send 100 missionaries around the globe to live in and among unchurched people groups and truly be light in a darkened world.
At the outset, you get that it isn’t easy. Joey tells the story of one of his scars: the result of an attack in India. He tells the story of friends: one killed in Libya, others threatened in North Africa, and so on. This isn’t a feel-good, do-something-small-and-simple kind of book. From the beginning, you know Shaw is calling for a revolution.
And this is a revolution firmly backed with Scripture. Shaw doesn’t just spit rhetoric or tell stories. All Authority is deeply theological, focusing on the Bible’s teachings of Jesus’ authority and what comes from that, what is demanded by that. Not meant as a criticism, it’s honestly a bit deeper than its initial tone would suggest. See, there tends to be academic theology and practical theology. The former is more comprehensive but usually lacks in application; the latter is all about application but not as substantive.
Shaw balances the two remarkably well, which is part of what makes All Authority stand out amidst every other “pastor book.” It’s a deep book theologically with a deep and permeating application. The average reader might get a bit bogged down at times, but keep going. It’s worth it.
In the end, I would have liked more practical “How did you do it?” advice to go along with the theological underpinnings. As a pastor, I’ve found the issue is usually not a lack of knowledge, but a lack of the will. How did they get 100 people to leave their middle-class suburbs for war-torn lands? What practical steps go into supporting and sustaining such a mission? In other words, once we are convinced, how to we accomplish it all?
But I won’t fault a book too much for what it didn’t do. All Authority is a theological manifesto for enacting the Great Commission. We do it because we are under God’s authority; we will be equipped through his authority; and we preach only his authority.
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