Undercovered by Rod Tucker

Undercovered is supposed to be a book about “the truth about honesty and community”, and while it addresses honesty and community I struggle with whether it adequately addresses the issue of truth.

The book is great at calling the church to task on our lack of honesty with each other with our struggles and our lack of community in regards to both holding others accountable and building each other up in our struggle to “be holy as [God] is holy.”  These are great things to call us to task on, because I’ve been in plenty of churches, Bible studies, small groups – whatever you want to call them – and people act like Christianity is no more than a set of moral rules that we have to follow; on this point Tucker is absolutely correct – Christianity is more than living a certain way, following certain rules, or doing (or not doing) certain things.  In a recent conversation with some leaders at my church we were trying to answer the question, “Are we know more for what we are for or for what we are against?”  And that’s a hard conversation to have.

We need to be honest and open about our struggles, which is what Tucker calls for.  But my struggle with the book is that I found it preaching a theology of what I call victimization, a belief that lacks hope.  He talks about grace, often in the context of the grace we need to extend to each other, but I often felt like grace of God wasn’t enough to overcome the sins we face.

I’m certainly not suggestion that we can live perfect lives without sin (I reviewed a book about that a couple of months ago), yet at the same time I don’t believe we are slaves to our sin anymore – Scripture makes clear we are now slaves of Christ, and that if “Christ sets you free, you are free indeed.”  It doesn’t say “you will be free” but “you are free”.  And that’s a big deal.  As much as I cringe when I hear people preach a theology that says, “You can live a life without sin if you really want to,” I cringe equally as much when I hear things such as “Men will always struggle with pornography” or “The drug addict will always struggle with drugs.”  The grace of the gospel is that once the alcoholic is set free, he is “free indeed”; once the sex addict is set free, he is “free indeed”; once the unfaithful are made faithful they are “free indeed.”  That’s the gospel.

How does that idea marry with the idea that we are not yet free of the body?  I don’t know – that’s part of the mystery of the gospel.  Luther said that we are both “Simul Iustus et Peccator,” or both “Sinner and Saint.  I guess the struggle for authors is to write with both at the same time without over-emphasizing one or the other.  Tucker’s book didn’t strike that balance for me – as I read it I felt beat-down and lost all hope.  But the gospel is full of hope – hope in a risen savior who has overcome death and Hell.  So when I read a book that takes that hope away it makes me cringe and I have to question whether it’s worth my time.

So, overall, I’ll give this book 1/5 stars.  Yes, for the record I did receive a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest (though not necessarily favorable) review.



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