Participating in Abundant Life, Mark R. Teasdale. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2022.
Summary: A holistic vision of salvation that includes material standards of living, quality of life, and eternal life under the rubric of abundant life.
Mark Teasdale is a professor of evangelism who works with churches reluctant to engage in evangelism to help them demonstrate and proclaim God’s saving work. For many of us, when we think of salvation, it means being restored to right relationship with God through the cross of Christ and having the hope of eternal life through his resurrection. Teasdale would affirm all of that but in this book, proposes that salvation is a far more holistic idea in scripture that has to do with human life and well-being both materially and spiritually.
The opening chapters of this book ground this claim in scripture. He proposes that there are three measures of the abundant life of salvation: standard of living, quality of life, and experiencing eternal abundant life in Christ. He both believes that this holistic vision allows the church to pursue the abundant life with people not ready for entering into a relationship with God in Christ. He contends they are experiencing salvation when we address everything from poverty to health care. This allows us to make common cause with those who do not share a Christian worldview but care about improving the standard of life of people and their quality of life.
Teasdale recognizes the danger that without the gospel of eternal abundant life, this can simply become humanitarian aid and social work. These are good but not all the good God intends for people. What differentiates Christian salvation are Christians working in community that demonstrates its spiritual hope as they invite people not only to receive goods and services but to receive these in the context of a spiritually robust and caring community, ready to speak of their hope.
The use of standards of living and quality of life allows both individuals and churches to have measurable goals and metrics as they share abundant life. The appendix of the book includes examples of both personal and corporate metrics churches can adopt and adapt.
Biblical scholars have long known that the language of salvation encompasses far more than just our eternal destiny. What this book does is work out what this might look like in the church’s life, both in the believer’s enjoyment of abundant life and the sharing of that life with those who do not yet believe. Instead of a program, Teasdale offers a paradigm shift while encouraging congregations to set their own measurable goals to address standards of living, quality of life, and the embrace of eternal life in Christ that together encompass the abundant life.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.