Pleas for subsequent books and clarifications aside, The Deep Things of God is a "public performance" of evangelicalism desperately in need of repetition and imitation. Sanders has provided a template of careful exegesis of the evangelical tradition that builds on its strengths while gently correcting its blemishes. As a generous appropriation of distinctly evangelical resources, The Deep Things of God moves evangelical theology and church life in the right direction without making it any less evangelical.
More importantly, Sanders helps us peer into the deep things of God without losing our balance and falling into either mysticism or rationalism. His vivid prose doesn't make the topic any easier, but it does make it less intimidating. Sanders writes as he teaches—with a light touch and a joyful concern for his audience's learning and growth, but also cognizant of the dangers that are at hand when we approach the mysteries of God. Sanders is a sober but lively guide to the deep things of God, and evangelicals will benefit enormously from his tour.
Anderson ends the review with some substantive critiques, especially pointing out that “it’s not clear what Sanders wants evangelicals to do differently –other than read his book– to more deeply embed the Trinity into our movement.” He’s got me there, I want people to read the book. On the lack of action points, I have no defense to offer. I’m praying that the book falls into the hands of people with more ministry experience and know-how than I have, who can devise the action points and take the next steps. I’m just a perfesser who reads and thinks and talks all day; this is as practical as I get. Writing Deep Things is my way of passing the baton to pastors, worship leaders, and people like Matt Anderson, who can run the next lap.
There's more to be said about this important book. But enough commentary. Tolle lege! Then come back and let me know what you think.
Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.