Radicalism – Is It Foreign To Christianity?

radicalWhat is your dream? If you are a Christian, is your dream different than the one your unbelieving friend, spouse, or neighbor dreams each night? Do you both have a common dream? Maybe the American dream?

Being Christian in America can become easy living. Most American Christians enjoy the pleasures of their own vehicles, theatrically lit sanctuaries, and charismatic speakers that deliver relevant and punch messages, week in and week out.

Author David Platt attempts to weigh in with a new perspective on American Christianity in Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. Platt evaluates the radical discipleship of New Testament Christianity and compares it to contemporary examples of Christendom. An unlikely critic, shepherding a 4,000 member church in Birmingham, Alabama, listening to a “mega-church” minister speak on radical separation from the American Dream creates an interesting dichotomy. If what Platt evaluates as a stark contrast between today’s example of “discipleship” and the same “discipleship” laid out in scripture is true, we have a major disconnect.

Platt diligently demonstrates the difference in devotion through several means. When you can compare parking lots populated with millions of dollars in vehicles, bright lit meeting places, and freedom to worship when and where you please with secret meeting places, dimly lit gathering rooms, and bicycling from one meeting to another risking your life and not see a need for re-assessment of value, then something might be terribly wrong. Platt cleverly shows his readers how singular devotion to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ concerning dedication, giving, and fulfillment of the great commission in all that we do can revolutionize your life. The stupor and haze of the American Dream no longer has to confound your judgment concerning putting your own hands to the plow.

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Are We All Really Just Pagan Christians?

paganxtianityHave you ever taken a step back from something that you have always known and endeared so much that it would hurt to let it go? What if the very thing you are so certain of and cherish so much is exposed for what it really is, and you find that you have been essentially living a lie your entire life?

Frank Viola and George Barna collaborate together in this production from 2008 called Pagan Christianity. The book sets out to uncover deeply held beliefs and practices that many view as orthodox Christianity. Frank and George pull out all the stops in this treatise against the ‘institutionalized’ system of the Christian church and set out to trumpet a return to the church’s biblical foundations. Frank and George instigate the presuppositions of the church of our day by contrasting it with historical and researched data while all the while campaigning for a more ‘organic’ approach.

We are also making an outrageous proposal: that the church in its contemporary, institutional form has neither a biblical nor a historical right to function as it does. This proposal, of course, is our conviction based on the historical evidence that we shall present in the book. You must decide if that proposal is valid or not. (page xx)

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How Do You Read the Bible for Life?

bibleforlifeReading the Bible. Seems to be a challenge for many people. In large part, there appears to be a segment of the ‘Christian’ population that falls short in this facet of their ‘faith.’ The deficit is apparently so great that a book was written to address the problem directly.

This book does more than just address the problem of ‘lazy’ reading practices. This book engages the reader in conversation. At least, it allows you to sit at the table and read in onto conversations taking place between the author George H. Guthrie and those he has selected to comment on various topics regarding Bible reading. Essentially, the author has created what is deemed ‘Your Guide to Understanding & Living God’s Word.’

Honestly, I found this book helpful. It was not only resourceful and informative, it provides practical insight from many respected individuals. Although, there is the view of only one woman, Mr. Guthrie’s wife sits down for a dialog about reading the Bible with the family. While touching on virtually every facet of reading and understanding the Bible topics related to foundational hermeneutics, ie., context, translation, application, the author also takes us on a journey through discussions concerning the Old Testament, New Testament, and crossing the culture bridge and reading it for our modern context.

Conversations with Dr. Guthrie include David S. Dockery, Andreas Kostenberger, George Guthrie (yes, he speaks with himself), Bruce Waltke, David Platt, Douglas Moo, and Michael Card. Indeed a solid lineup of many whom I would enjoy gleaning insight and wisdom from regarding their walk with Christ and the sustenance they have derived from living and breathing his word.

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Is Your Theology Dug Down Deep?

Have you ever read a systematic theology? These are not the type of books you curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and a cozy blanket with.

Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris
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Systematic theologies tend toward large voluminous shelf hogs that cost a few shekels more than an average theological work and they serve more for reference material than casual reading.

Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris enters the theological realm encouraging readers to be ‘Building Your Life on Truths That Last.’ The book begins with personal anecdotes and a brief introduction to theological terminology used throughout the book. Next the author  transitions from introductory customs to deep and thoughtful discussion related to the core tenets of Christianity.

Dug Down Deep consists of individual chapters dedicated to doctrines like God, Scripture, Jesus, the Cross, salvation, sanctification, the Holy Spirit, and the Church. Last but not least, a final chapter dedicated to Humble Orthodoxy, of which Joshua Harris and his ilk are known for promoting amongst evangelicals. Encompassing 231 pages and a worthy in-depth study guide, this title from Multnomah engages its readers as they seek to answer the question, “What are you going to build your life on?

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What is with Paul and oppressing women

Have you ever truly experienced a faithful assembly, committed to biblical literalism and committed to obedience to what the scriptures say? Have you ever longed to be a member of one of those types of meetings where people are consistent in their application of the doctrines of the Apostles?

I hope your answer is yes. But I also wonder if you really know what the end result of that could be in some cases. This book authored by Jon Zens presents the perspective of women’s silence and subjection inside the meeting of the church. What’s with Paul and Women?: Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Timothy 2 is an intriguing look at the fallacies the author believes put restrictions on women in ministry.

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Divorce and remarriage, no big deal?

Approximately three years ago, a brother and I were discussing the topic of marriage and divorce over lunch. During our discussion, this brother shared with me that one of our own brethren had completed a work on the very subject we were elaborating upon.

At that time, there was a PDF known amongst our brethren in the assembly as the “divorce book” and was appropriately entitled “Let Not Man Put Asunder: A Biblical Study of Divorce.” By H. Van Dyke Parunak. (This version is freely available at the above link to those interested in reviewing the version that surveys the entire bible on this issue). The brother in whom I was in discussion with, charged me with the exhortation to read this brother’s treatment of the topic.

With a conclusion that divorce was at times permissible amongst believers under exceptional circumstances, I could not reason with a free conscience that it was acceptable for divorced persons to ‘remarry.’

Yes, that puts quite a number of folks into a tight position does it not? It is a personal issue for many people, and a difficult and trying topic to wrestle with effectively. In the end, it creates a dilemma for those who would provide counsel or advise individuals facing marriage, divorce, or remarriage. It effects us at home and abroad. Mothers, Fathers, Step-Family, Cousins, Uncles, and Aunts. Continue reading Divorce and remarriage, no big deal?

John Piper says he’s a Christian Hedonist, how about you?

Following on the heels of a successful publishing the past 25 years, John Piper has again revisited one of his most popular works, Desiring God, Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. Originally published in 1986, this book has been the go-to manual of what John Piper defines as Christian Hedonism.
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Having never completed reading an entire John Piper book, I was not surprised to see it read like he speaks. John’s book touches on many critical issues effecting the Christian in today’s context. John has appropriately revised this entry to accommodate the advent of modern technology, the new ails of our age, and added an additional chapter to include, “Suffering: The Sacrifice of Christian Hedonism.” Concisely, academically, and scholastically, John defends his thesis, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him” throughout the entire text. John Piper also sufficiently demonstrates the story behind his passion for Christian Hedonism, and propagating it amongst brothers and sisters everywhere.

I had a difficult time engaging the book and being motivated to read it. It was not so much that the material or topic nature was not engaging itself, it is that I just found it a bit dry. I suppose John Piper may be able to level the accusation of anti-hedonist toward me at this point. Even though the premise of the book, and “Christian Hedonism” is to find joy in God, and thus draw God’s satisfaction in you, it challenges some of the paradigms of the modern Christians faith.

John Piper demonstrates that the Christian life is easily seen as sacrificial in  many regards. He also challenges the adage that finding joy in the “less-than” lifestyle Christ calls his disciples to lead is not itself as controversial as one might find. After all, having true joy in Christ is dying for him, storing up for yourself treasure in heaven. Knowing that there is reward for your temporal loss is at the center of John Piper’s Christian Hedonism.

I enjoyed the book, but I am not sure I have been converted to Christian Hedonism just yet! Nor am I ready to call myself a Christian Hedonist. There is plenty of sound advice and good strong scriptural support for John Piper’s Christian Hedonism. I also have now been afforded a glimpse into the “Desiring God” battle cry John is so well known for. With the addition of another chapter, and a group study guide, this book is worth the purchase for those who have never experienced it, and for those who have previous versions. A refreshing updated Desiring God will not disappoint!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review!