Bound Together: How We Are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices by Chris Brauns
Pastor Chris Brauns takes on a timely and significant subject in his new book entitled Bound Together. He goes on to explain by writing, “Our future and our place in this world aren’t simply the sum of our own individual choices. On varying levels, we are roped together with others. When someone we are roped to is lifted up, we are lifted up with them” (25). Whether it’s the elementary class getting no recess for the actions of one person or a family bearing the consequences of having one of its members lose their driver’s license, we are all bound together and thus our decisions radically affect those around us. Brauns goes on to explain how this principle works itself out in the Biblical story as well, by citing the examples of the flood in Noah’s day and the destruction that ensued at Sodom and Gomorrah. Brauns explains the principle of the rope, that we are bound together by writing, “the decisions and choices made by God’s representative leaders have consequences for their people” (32). Numerous examples abound here, but Brauns points out that the lives of God’s people were demonstrably affected by the leadership of David, Achan, Solomon and others.
In Chapter 2, the subject of the Fall and its effect on the entire creation is taken up. Using Reformed sources from John Murray, Michael Horton to the Westminster Confession with the Scriptures, Brauns outlines the principle of the rope in connection to the Fall by understanding both federalist and realist versions of the argument. The federalist teaching sees Adam as our representative and “Because Adam represented us, his actions and decisions had a determinative effect on our future” (46). The realist view teaches that all of Adam’s descendants were really present when he sinned (46). Transmission isn’t entirely necessary because all of Adam’s descendants were present at the Fall. Brauns goes onto explain that neither view fully captures the full weight of our union with Adam and the disastrous consequences of the fall. The federalist view captures the representative nature of the fall while the realist view captures the organic and vital union that we have with Adam (48). This type of reasoning is helpful in seeing the various ways the fall has been transmitted to us through Adam.
In the chapter on The Rope That is Stronger, Brauns seeks to provide a remedy for the precarious situation that humans find themselves as a result of Adam and their being sinners. This solution is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Chris writes, “In other words, though we are all roped Adam in a negative way, it is now possible for us to be roped to the Lord Jesus Christ in a positive way….Christ now throws a lifeline to rescue us. He severs our tie to Adam and binds us to himself. It is critical to note that Paul is not suggesting we are now roped to both Adam and Christ” (58). The very work of Christ in his death and resurrection erases the solidarity we have in Adam and binds us to Christ. This good news as outlined in Romans 5 has the burden of providing not only hope for the hopeless but provides a final remedy for sin. We are no longer under the domain of darkness but serve a King who has won the victory and triumphed over death and darkness by his very life.
What I really enjoyed about this book is that way Chris outlined the eminent value of understanding our union with Christ. In the chapter on Bound to a New King, he outlines the images of union with Christ that we find in the Bible; from the temple, to a vine, to a body. For hurting families, Chris mentions that “the rope to Christ and the gospel is exceedingly stronger than the rope to Adam and sin. The good news is good more than the bad news is bad” (129). One more time Chris mentions that our union with Christ has a vital connection to how we view death, giving us hope and alleviating the dread that falls on many as they approach the end of life (154). These practical considerations bring to life how doctrines, specifically union with Christ, are not some old dusty arcane idea, but a living and breathing teaching. Furthermore, as Chris indicates, the tie that binds to Christ is much greater than our connection to Adam, thus, we can have a strong foundation in the worst of times, from marriages to the disintegration of families. Lastly, I thought the way Chris worked through parts of the book of Hebrews was a real help in understanding both sin and union with Christ (in other words, this will preach).
his book was a book that of great substance and practical value, giving hope to the hurting and encouragement for all those struggling with sin.
Thanks to Cross Focused Reviews and Zondervan for the review copy of this book in exchange for review.