Forgotten God

I am reading Francis Chan’s book, Forgotten God. It is very similar to the writing style and approach that Francis took when he wrote Crazy Love (which is on my “read every January list”).

In other words, it is easy to read, challenges assumptions, and dares us to move out of our routines into a powerful relationship with God the Holy Spirit.

Here are a few excerpts from later in the book to give the flavor:

God is not interested in numbers. He cares most about the faithfulness, not the size, of His bride. He cares about whether people are lovers of Him. And while I might be able to get people in the doors of a church or auditorium if I tell enough jokes or use enough visuals, the fact remains that I cannot convince people to be obsessed with Jesus. Perhaps I can talk people into praying a prayer, but I cannot talk anyone into falling in love with Christ. I cannot make someone understand and accept the gift of grace. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. So by every measure that actually counts, I need the Holy Spirit. Desperately.

p. 143

and

But God is not a coercive God. And though He desires for His children to know peace and love and to have wisdom, I have noticed that He often waits for us to ask.

He desires to do more than “help out” a bit. He wants to completely transform us. He wants to take a timid heart and set it ablaze with strength and courage, so much so that people know something supernatural has taken place–life change just as miraculous as fire coming down from heaven.

p. 146

and

I don’t know about you, but I cannot simply muster up more love. I can’t manufacture patience just by gritting my teeth and determining to be more patient. We are not strong enough or good enough and it doesn’t work that way. None of us can “do goodness” on our own, much less all the other elements that make up the fruit of the Spirit.
….
Instead of mustering up more willpower, let’s focus our energies and time on asking for help from the One who has the power to change us. Let’s take the time to ask God to put the fruit of His Spirit into our lives. And let’s spend time with the One we want to be more like.

p. 148

book recommendation

John Piper is making a book recommendation other than the Bible.  Same Kind of Different As Me.

My lovely wife read Same Kind of Different As Me last year and also recommends it highly.

here are some lines that Piper mentioned:

  • “Denver and I are not preachers or teachers but sinners with a story to tell.”
  • “You never know whose eyes God is watchin’ you through.”
  • “I hope people will recycle the love they’ve been givin’ to somebody that’s not easy to love.”
  • “This earth ain’t no final restin’ place, so in a way we is all homeless.”
  • “Just tell ’em I’m a nobody tryin’ to tell everybody about Somebody who can save anybody.”
  • “How do you live the rest of your life in jus a few days?”

current bookshelf

my current bookshelf of books that I am reading looks like this
Amazon.com Widgets

quite a stack on my nightstand

effect of literature

Kevin DeYoung wonders what hath literature wrought?

I agree strongly with his conclusion:

I’ll take passionate and logical romantic rationalism over the tired tirades of false dichotomies any day.

plus, I enjoy his perfect parallel prose. anyone who reads here long knows that I adore appropriate alliteration.

more reviews of The Shack

some big guns have turned their attention to Wm P. Young’s book, The Shack. Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian has read it and Dr. Al Mohler is concerned about the discernment ability of modern evangelicals in light of the fact that this book is so popular among them.

If you remember my main concern with the book was its false portrayal of God.

my summary is:

I am afraid that if someone reads the Shack and falls in love with Papa, then all they have fallen in love with is a fictional African American woman who likes to cook and give hugs. They have not been led to God. They have not fallen in love with the biblical Jesus.
They have instead been distracted by an anthropomorphic three headed idol created by Wm. Paul Young.

Therefore, I was pleased to see Tim Keller say:

But here is my main problem with the book. Anyone who is strongly influenced by the imaginative world of The Shack will be totally unprepared for the far more multi-dimensional and complex God that you actually meet when you read the Bible. In the prophets the reader will find a God who is constantly condemning and vowing judgment on his enemies, while the Persons of the Triune-God of The Shack repeatedly deny that sin is any offense to them. The reader of Psalm 119 is filled with delight at God’s statutes, decrees, and laws, yet the God of The Shack insists that he doesn’t give us any rules or even have any expectations of human beings. All he wants is relationship. The reader of the lives of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Isaiah will learn that the holiness of God makes his immediate presence dangerous or fatal to us. Someone may counter (as Young seems to do, on p.192) that because of Jesus, God is now only a God of love, making all talk of holiness, wrath, and law obsolete. But when John, one of Jesus’ closest friends, long after the crucifixion sees the risen Christ in person on the isle of Patmos, John ‘fell at his feet as dead.’ (Rev.1:17.) The Shack effectively deconstructs the holiness and transcendence of God. It is simply not there. In its place is unconditional love, period. The God of The Shack has none of the balance and complexity of the Biblical God. Half a God is not God at all.

I also very much enjoyed Dr. Mohler’s take. He points out the numerous serious theological concerns and wonders why so many people fail to see how the book contradicts Biblical theology.

here are some of the problems but be sure to read the whole article for others:

The relationship of the Father to the Son, revealed in a text like John 17, is rejected in favor of an absolute equality of authority among the persons of the Trinity. “Papa” explains that “we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity.” In one of the most bizarre paragraphs of the book, Jesus tells Mack: “Papa is as much submitted to me as I am to him, or Sarayu to me, or Papa to her. Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way.”

The theorized submission of the Trinity to a human being — or to all human beings — is a theological innovation of the most extreme and dangerous sort. The essence of idolatry is self-worship, and this notion of the Trinity submitted (in any sense) to humanity is inescapably idolatrous.

The most controversial aspects of The Shack’s message have revolved around questions of universalism, universal redemption, and ultimate reconciliation. Jesus tells Mack: “Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats, Republicans and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions.” Jesus adds, “I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, my Beloved.”

Mack then asks the obvious question — do all roads lead to Christ? Jesus responds, “Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.”

Given the context, it is impossible not to draw essentially universalistic or inclusivistic conclusions about Young’s meaning. “Papa” chides Mack that he is now reconciled to the whole world. Mack retorts, “The whole world? You mean those who believe in you, right?” “Papa” responds, “The whole world, Mack.”

emphasis added.

I think the bit that I bolded above is why the book is so popular. self love and self worship has been honed to a fine art in our culture including our church culture. we like hearing ourselves say to each other “you’re good enough, you’re smart enough and doggone it, people like you.”

We very much would like to believe that God believes the same thing about us that we believe about ourselves.

Logos 4 is out

Libronix has come out with Logos 4. Here is a video introduction of the new product. It looks really great, but I will wait till they get the Mac kinks worked out before I make the leap. Can’t wait to keep everything in Logos synced on my iPhone.

I am still using the old Logos on my Windows XP virtual machine and quite happy with it. Logos 4 looks like a good reason to make the upgrade to the Mac version when it is ready.

Deep Church?

Kevin DeYoung takes a good long look at Deep Church by Jim Belcher.

As you know, Kevin wrote his own book about the emerging church movement, so he knows whereof he speaks.

he approached this new book with trepidation:

I am always skeptical of “third way” books anyways. Usually, the “third way” is basically the same as one of the other two ways, only a little nicer. In this case, I was expecting the third way to be emergent-lite with a less caustic attitude toward evangelicals. But actually Belcher was just the opposite. He is an evangelical–a traditional evangelical I would argue–who seems sound in his theology (he is a PCA minister after all), but wants to be non-traditional in a few ways. If I were titling the book I would call it “Why I’m Not Emergent, But I Like Many of the Emergent Folks and I Want to Do Church Differently Too.”

But he was surprised by it and liked it more than he thought he would.

Evaluation
As you can see, there is much to affirm in these chapters. Belcher understands the issues well and clearly rejects the worst of the emerging movement. His church sounds like a good church, and Belcher (whom I never met) strikes me as an honest, thoughtful, irenic pastor. I agreed with much more in this book than I thought I would. As a part of the PCA, Belcher is not only tied to the Great Tradition, but to the Reformed/Presbyterian tradition. As such, I imagine our theology is quite similar. We are on the same team. My agreements with him outnumber my disagreements.

Nevertheless, I have a few critiques for Deep Church. Let me mention four, each in the form of a question.

Go over to Kevin’s place and read those four questions as well as the rest of the review. Good stuff.