When a book strikes a nerve with me, it is usually for one of three reasons:
1. I strongly agree with the author and sense a kindred spirit.
2. The author touches a subject where God is stretching me and I feel the pain of that stretch (usually through conviction).
3. I strongly disagree with the author and emotionally react against it.
Uncovered: The Truth about Honesty and Community by Rod Tucker struck a nerve in all three ways. I certainly found areas of strong agreement with the author. He addressed the great need for true, facade-shattering honesty in our churches, such that people discover real biblical community in their relationships with one another. Illustrating this need, Tucker writes: “…the church (especially today) is not a place where honesty is gracefully accepted; and because of this lack of honesty and grace, people do not bring their whole hearts to church.” (135)
I also found areas where I was stretched, being confronted with areas where personal growth are needed. Tucker points out that, in order for true honesty to be achieved, there will always have to be humility on the part of the hearer. (83) It is easy to ask people to open up their hearts and be honest about where they are spiritually. It is another thing altogether actually to foster the kind of humble and gracious environment it will take for such unhindered, gut-level honesty to be achieved.
I am not sure whether or not I would strongly disagree with Tucker on some of the issues I found troubling. It may be that his way of addressing certain topics bothered me more than what Tucker may actually believe about those issues. I am simply not sure that he communicated well and clearly about certain topics, for instance: whether or not he was admonishing churches to accept all people into their membership, even if they were living in openly sinful lifestyles, from which they had no intention of repenting. It could be that Tucker was simply advocating a safe place for those who are separated from Christ and living in their sin to be able to come interact with other people who are honest about their own sinful behaviors, and the grace of God that is available through Christ. I do believe, however, that even given the benefit of the doubt, Tucker swung the pendulum of building honesty and community so far that he moved beyond the biblical principle of “speaking the truth in love” to an idea of “be honest about how sinful you are and don’t talk so much about the sin of others. Just love on them and show them grace, and the truth part will take care of itself.” While I agree that people do not need to be hit over the head with a Bible to be reminded of the reality of their sin, I am reminded that Jesus did not hesitate to call adulteresses out on their sin, telling them, through His gracious and merciful response, “Go and sin no more.”
The book is divided up into three parts. The first part, “Me, Myself and Honesty,” deals with man’s need to acknowledge his own sinfulness and his futile efforts of justifying or hiding his own sin so that others will not see it. The second part, “Thoughts on Honesty and the Church,” discusses how the church responds to those who are living in sin, but who are seeking to be honest about who they are. The third part, “Thoughts on Honesty, the Church, and Seeing Past Ourselves,” addresses some internal changes Tucker believes needs to take place within the church before real biblical community will take place.
Overall, this book stretched me and reminded me about the need to see true biblical community developing in our churches. It further reminded me that Holy Spirit- directed openness and honesty will be both what helps to achieve biblical community and what demonstrates that it is there. Some of my concerns about the book will likely keep me from recommending it broadly, though I may use it in a discussion-group setting to equip and challenge church members to recognize the need for true biblical community and some of the hindrances to achieving it.
(FTC Disclaimer – I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for writing this unbiased review)