Today, Transformed catches up with Alex Early, a current student in Western Seminary’s Doctor of Intercultural Studies program. Earlier this month, Alex’s new book “The Reckless Love of God: Experiencing the Personal Passionate Heart of the Gospel” hit the shelves (Bethany House Publishers).
Transformed: Tell us a little bit about your background.
Alex: I grew up in a Christian home, in Woodstock, Georgia. I became a believer in Jesus in high school, and after only about ninety days, I knew that God was calling me into the ministry. However, like most, I didn’t know what that would look like. I went to college in South Carolina where I met my wife, and we were married about a year after graduation. Next, I served for about three years in a church where, among other things, I led a skateboard ministry for a few hundred kids at a local skate park. During that time I completed my M.Div. After graduation, my wife and I moved to England, where I attended the London School of Theology and obtained a second masters degree – this time specifically in the field of hermeneutics. After returning to the United States, I planted Four Corners Church in a bar that I worked in prior to moving to the U.K.
In the more recent past, my wife and I have been through a lot: the tragedy of losing a child through miscarriage, the sudden loss of my father a few months later, and then the births of our two wonderful children. Additionally, we moved out West for three years and served two churches. Now we’re back in the South. I’m working to complete the D.I.S. at Western, and taking a breather from full-time ministry before jumping into church planting in Atlanta, God willing.
Transformed: Wow – and along with this, you’ve somehow found the time to write too. Let’s talk a little about your most recent writing project, The Reckless Love of God, which came out earlier this month. What prompted you to write this book?
Alex: It was my own personal experience of coming to believe that God loves me, personally, as an individual. This is all still pretty new to me (maybe five years ago.) As I said, I grew up in the church knowing about the love God, and even being a professing Christian for ten years. However, it really hadn’t occurred to me just how much God loves me as an individual. My wife and I were on vacation down in the Florida Keys when I came to believe for the first time just how much God loved me, and so I decided to sit down and write what was on my mind and in my heart. It was through this experience that the Reckless Love of God came together.
Transformed: The title of you new book uses the word “reckless” to characterize the love of God. So then, what do you think is “reckless” about God’s love?
Alex: I went with the word “reckless” to describe the love of God because that is exactly how the Bible depicts His love. For example, in the famous parable about the prodigal son in Luke 15, Jesus tells us that the son goes off and squanders his inheritance in “reckless living”. Then, out of nowhere, the father sees the son in and the distance, and comes running to him. He plows him over, kissing him, hugging him, shouting at the top of his lungs in incredible gut-busting joy that his son is home. In this parable, the only thing more reckless than man’s rebellion is God’s incredible, over-the-top, scandalous grace in coming to us, loving us, saving us, and restoring us to himself – even on our worst day.
Transformed: If a reader takes one thing away from this book, what would it be?
Alex: I want readers to know that Jesus is the perfect Son of God who has revealed the love of God perfectly and dispenses it freely to God’s children.
Transformed: The organization of the chapters in this book is clever (check out the table of contents on Google or Amazon). What gave you the idea?
Alex: Well, for anyone who grew up in the church they know the song ‘Jesus Loves Me’. As I reflected on the lyrics of the song one day, I began to believe that this simple children’s song sums up so much of the message of the Bible.
Transformed: What can you tell us about your experience in Western’s Doctor of Intercultural Studies Program, and how it has equipped you in your various ministry capacities?
Alex: So far I’ve had a great experience at Western Seminary. I really love the city of Portland, and so getting to visit fairly often is a true blessing. In terms of how the program has equipped me, one significant thing that comes to mind is my personal interaction with Dr. Wan in working on my dissertation. I’m excited about the topic of my research, which pertains to atonement studies and relationships. I’ve found that this is a fruitful area of study for myself as a pastor-theologian.
Watch the video trailer for The Reckless Love of God.
Next week, our conversation with Alex continues. In this upcoming second (and final) part of our interview, we explore the topic of God’s love a bit further, including some potential pitfalls to watch out for when seeking to apply this theological truth to our lives.