This past Sunday I preached on Jesus’ teaching ministry, highlighting the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. As part of my preparation, I discovered Crucifying Morality: The Gospel of the Beatitudes by RW Glenn. For only $4.99 on the Kindle, I figured it would be a quick read that might help; I sat down one afternoon hoping to skim it and maybe glean a quote or idea.
Little did I know how much the book would affect me.
Glenn, the Pastor of Preaching and Vision at Redeemer Bible Church in Minnesota, makes much of the Gospel in this book. Combating a moralistic reading of the Sermon on the Mount, he presents the Beatitudes through a Gospel-centered lens. The Beatitudes are not a checklist to obtain God’s favor; rather, the entire Sermon on the Mount highlights man’s depravity and Jesus’ perfect obedience.
Glenn is a great writer, able to communicate these Gospel truths clearly and powerfully. Devoting a chapter to each beatitude, he shows how Jesus spoke against works-righteousness; he then applies the beatitude to the crowds around Jesus as well as the 21st century reader. Although much of the book is focused on killing morality and self-righteousness, the language is fresh and never feels repetitive.
A great concept from this book that made it into my sermon: seeing the Beatitudes as a “Gospel litmus-test.” By this Glenn means that we ought to use the Beatitudes to identify areas in our life where we are holding onto self-righteousness. If we see ourselves as anything but meek, merciful, and hungry for righteousness, then the Beatitudes show us where the Spirit still needs to work.
This book would be a great devotional read for Christians fighting the grip of moralism, as well as a good introduction to the Gospel for seekers and new believers. I know I will be buying a few physical copies to keep on hand to give away.
- Title: Crucifying Morality: The Gospel of the Beatitudes
- Author: RW Glenn
- Publisher: Shepherd Press (2013)
- Format: Kindle (currently available for $4.99)
- Rating: 4.5/5