[REVIEW] The Light Is Winning by Zach Hoag


The Light Is Winning: Why religion might just bring us back to life

By Zach Hoag

Zach Hoag has lived an extraordinary life – and that’s only putting it mildly.

In his memoir (come theological and societal guide to the modern Church) The Light Is Winning, he delves into his scattered and scarred religious past, which includes time in a bizarre Texan cult, to a tried and failed church plant in one of America’s most post-Christian cities. 

Framed around the political and cultural divisions that exist in the American Church, Hoag is disarming and utterly honest. Detailing his belief in God and relationship with the Church since childhood, he unwraps the flawed theology he held around his calling, community, division and leadership.

Hoag’s journey is unique – how many of us have survived a cult, grown up church planting with a missional family, become devoutly Calvinist, stepped away from Calvinism, planted and pastored our own church, failed miserably, given up on the Church and (just when you think that’s not enough), become a Methodist? But through this complex and at times sad journey, Hoag’s words reflect how many of us feel about religious practices and our own spirituality.

The Light Is Winning is directed at the American church and Hoag gives every indication it is written in response to the sharp division Donald Trump’s presidency has revealed between US Christians. In fact, Hoag uses the last two chapters to deliver a brutally honest (and some what preachy) message about the political stance of Jesus and what awaits the believers who don’t participate in his life-giving work that embraces equality, peace and economic justice. 

While the social and political climate in Australia is different to the US, there is still something valuable within the pages for the Australian Church. And whether you find yourself on the right or left of the religious/political spectrum, Hoag’s insights about religious structures and learning humility make it an invaluable read.
His ability to mesh his personal experiences with Biblical teaching and concepts from some of history’s and modern-day’s greatest thinkers (he refers to everyone from Dietrich Bonheoffer to Brene Brown) also make this a vault of insight and wisdom.

Whether you have become disillusioned with the Church, have been hurt by leadership or experienced burnout, this book is designed to give you hope again. Hope that the Church can redeem itself, play its part in the narrative of Revelation and provide you with a place to belong. 

When we have lost all hope in God’s people, Hoag highlights that the light is always winning. And no matter what season of life we are in, or what our experience of the Church is, this is a positive reminder that God has the final victory. The question is, will we jump on board and participate in it?

The Light is Winning is available on Amazon.