Somewhere between Christian primer and revisionist theology, Gary North's Unconditional Surrender has been routinely praised and demonized since its initial 1980 publication. Three parts deal with basic Christian doctrine, the institutions of the Church, and the future of God's people, relying primarily on Scripture itself for proof and reference.
Strongly apologetic, Unconditional Surrender is primarily for believers unfamiliar with biblical teaching on a variety of essential topics. North begins with the Christian doctrines of God, man, law, judgment, and time from a covenantal perspective. Reformed Christians will find little unfamiliar material in this section.
According to North there are three legitimate institutions sanctioned by God—the family, the Church and the state. The family is central and the foundation of human society. The Church is less organic (most members aren't born into it), but resembles the family in important ways. The state is less organic still, less family-like, but no less under God's auspices. Again, most Christians (especially Reformed Christians) will agree with most of what North says in this section.
The third part contains the really controversial material. A member of what is called the "Reconstructionist" movement, North outlines a view of historical culmination in which Christians establish Christian governments based on biblical law, and an extreme form of postmillennialism.
He even presents a biblical defense of libertarian free-market capitalism, despite the virtual absence of that economic structure in any of the cultures of the biblical narrative. Yet all Christians should affirm his underlying theme: God's program is one of victory, not defeat, and only by affirming the truth of the Gospel (and, he would add, the centrality of the Law) can Christians accomplish cultural, moral and religious reform.
North wrote the first draft of Unconditional Surrender in two weeks. Many books composed on a similar timeline are confused, disjointed, stylistically flawed, etc.—this one is not. Conversational, witty, and profound while still engaging for non-academic and serious readers alike, this is a classic of 20th-century apologetics and Reconstructionist theology.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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