Over the last several months I have been reading Matthew L. Skinner’s Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel: Encountering the Divine in the Book of Acts (Brazos, 2015). It is part commentary, part devotional, part sermon, part scholarship – all blended together into a delicious literary meal!
The book is a lean 180 pages, no footnotes. It is not a commentary, it is not a monograph; it is a theological-narrative reading of Acts in its context. Skinner is a gifted writer, teasing out the theological dynamics of the text, often raising the right questions about God, the church, and the world. Skinner’s book works well for personal edification, maybe a church group study, but not really a full-blown “academic” introduction to Acts. (Although I might still use it as a textbook in a survey course). He keeps academic jargon to a bare minimum.
Here is a nice snippet from the introduction
The gospel is, in a word, disruptive.
People who live out this gospel say their God is bringing something new into being, something that challenges ‘the world’ –the prevailing sense of ‘the way things are.’ As a result, the same word disruptive applies equally to God, as Acts tells the story. God intrudes. God breaks in. God interferes. Whether by sending people out to declare the good news about Jesus, preserving a shipload of desperate travelers during a violent storm, miraculously liberating persecuted missionaries from imprisonment, or creating communities where people gather together to worship, learn, and care for one another, the intrusive God who inhabits the pages of Acts repeatedly engenders ‘no little disturbance’ in the lives of Jesus’s followers and the wider population. (xii)
At the end of the book, Skinner offers some reading suggestions – many good recommendations (Gaventa, Gonzalez, Spencer, etc.). I was a bit surprised he did not mention Kavin Rowe’s outstanding World Upside Down which dovetails nicely with Skinner’s book (I would think); I was also hoping he would recommend Luke Timothy Johnson’s profound Prophetic Jesus, Prophetic Church which places a strong emphasis on the prophetic nature of the church according to Luke-Acts. In any case, I commend Johnson on Luke-Acts.
These small matters notwithstanding, I heartily recommend Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel to everyone and encourage a wide readership. It’s good for the soul – and body – and church!