Brian McLaren’s new book

Kevin DeYoung thoroughly (pdf 12 pages long) reviews all ten premises of Brian McClaren’s new book A New Kind of Christianity here. Kevin’s describes his approach at the outset:

I want to be fair with McLaren. I want to understand his ideas and evaluate them based on their merits. If I misunderstand a point or misconstrue what McLaren teaches I want to be corrected. Further, I have no desire to engage in ad hominem attacks. I want to discuss McLaren’s theology without vitriol or sophomoric putdowns. I will not assume the worst about Brian McLaren. I will try not to say anything in the cozy confines of the blogosphere that I would not say sitting across from McLaren over a beverage of his choice.

It’s not wrong to ask a reviewer to be charitable, so long as the love does not have to be devoid of the truth.

So what I will not do is pretend that the issues McLaren raises are non-essential issues or that his mistakes are little mistakes. I will not refrain from serious critique because this is only a “quest” or merely an attempt to raise questions. Moreover, I will not attempt to find a middle ground with teaching that I believe to be heterodox. I will not look for a third way when I see Christianity going down one path and McLarenism going down another. I will state my disagreements with this book strongly and warn other Christians strenuously. I am not ashamed for having convictions, and I am not afraid to write as if I understand (truly though not exhaustively) what the Bible teaches and understand that what it teaches is incompatible with A New Kind of Christianity.

No one deserves to reviled. But some books deserve to pilloried.

and then he promptly and calmly proceeds to pillory what needs to be pilloried.

Tim Challies also reviewed the book. His review is shorter and more brutal.

It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote about Brian McLaren and got in trouble. Reflecting on seeing him speak at a nearby church, I suggested that he appears to love Jesus but hate God. Based on immediate and furious reaction, I quickly retracted that statement. I should not have done so. I believed it then and I believe it now. And if it was true then, how much more true is it upon the release of his latest tome A New Kind of Christianity. In this book we finally see where McLaren’s journey has taken him; it has taken him into outright, rank, unapologetic apostasy. He hates God. Period.

Both of these men have done us a service. Books such as McClaren’s need to be deconstructed and called out for the heresy that they are. As Mark Driscoll says, we have a duty to shoot the wolves.

reality of marriage

Challies put up an article on Monday just after his eleventh wedding anniversary that was a very real look at marriage through the device of wanting to give his younger newly married self some counseling.

the whole thing is good, but I thought this part was especially helpful because so many people have unrealistic ideas of the marriage relationship:

Prepare to Hurt and Be Hurt!. One of the greatest ironies and the greatest tragedies of marriage is that a husband and wife have more opportunities to sin against one another than against anyone else in all the world. Over the course of eleven years of marriage, I have hurt Aileen more than anyone else and have sinned against her more than I’ve sinned again anyone else. I suppose this means that marriage also offers unparalleled opportunities to extend forgiveness and to choose to overlook sin. While Aileen and I have had our share of struggles over the years, I truly believe that we carry no bitterness toward one another. Through God’s grace we have offered and received forgiveness time and time again. And through his grace we have overlooked many an offense. Yet there have been many occasions when we have hurt one another and when we have let this wounds fester for just a little too long.

If I could go back, I would prepare myself to be hurt and, even more, would seek to emphasize kindness and forbearance and grace so that I could hurt my wife far less often.

that is why I Peter 4:8 says “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

I can tell you after 20 years of married life that in a marriage there are many many sins that will need to be covered by fervent love. It is when you let your love grow cold that bitterness grows. Once bitterness takes hold of your heart, it is very difficult to uproot, so that love can flourish again.

The writer of Hebrews warned against ever letting the root of bitterness grow and prescribed the grace of God as the preventative. “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”

This Momentary Marriage

I posted a quick bit about John Piper’s book This Momentary Marriage last month with a link to download it in pdf for free.

Tim Challies has now reviewed the book and it is a review well worth reading. If you haven’t done so, do yourself a favor and download or buy the book and read it.

The point Piper makes time and time again is this: “Marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant relationship to his redeemed people, the church. And therefore, the highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of Christ and his church on display. That is why marriage exists. If you are married, that is why you are married. If you hope to be, that should be your dream.” Thus staying married is not about staying in love but about keeping covenant; getting divorced involves not just breaking a covenant with a spouse but misrepresenting Christ and his covenant.

Fireproof

I love the way Doug Wilson writes. You cannot read him when you are half asleep or you will be completely lost.

He has written a blurb review of Fireproof, the Christian marriage movie from last year.

But it was a very successful motion picture tract. This was edifying propaganda, and when I use the word edifying I am not putting quotation marks around it. The word propaganda is, if memory serves, the Latin passive periphrastic, meaning “things to be propagated.” Most made-for-tv movies and soap operas have low production values and they propagate the most frightful didactic drivel. This was a movie within that same genre that communicated the gospel clearly, and which walked people through some very basic and very real principles that contribute to the success of marriage relationships. It was not sophisticated at all, and revolved around a rudimentary come-to-Jesus appeal. And you know what? That is just what a lot of people need.

emphasis in original

go read the rest.

via challies.

“who is going to have the guts to leave the Temple?”

Carl Trueman has some observations about the American cult of celebrity that infects politics as well as religion in our country. Very interesting stuff.

here is how he ends it, but go read the rest to see how he got here:

The American church reflects the culture: ministries built around individuals, around big shots, churches that focus on god-like guru figures, all of them pointing to one door. I have lost count of the conversations I have had with church people anxious to tell of who they heard at this conference, of which person they corresponded with, of how this opinion or that opinion would not sit well with this demi-god and is therefore of little value; and, of course, of how anyone who disagrees with, or criticizes, this chosen hero must, of necessity be morally depraved and wicked. People want the gods to do their thinking for them. All of the Pelagian, Manichean celebrity malarkey of the American political process is alive and well in the church as well. The question is: when it comes to churches and ministries built around messiahs who are supposed to point not to themselves but to the true door, who is going to have the guts to leave the temple?

Hat tip to challies.

high praise for Finally Alive

John Piper’s new book, Finally Alive is earning high praise by reviewers.

Tim Challies says at the beginning of his review:

As I read the final page of Finally Alive I realized that I had found a new favorite book by John Piper. Those who have read my reviews of some of his previous titles know that while I greatly enjoy Piper’s ministry and am indebted to him in many ways, I have not always found his books easy to read. Yet I read Finally Alive with relish, enjoying it from the first page to the last. It is an incisive examination of a topic of profound importance. I think it represents Piper at his very best as an author.

Adrian Warnock says, in part:

By examining the Bible’s teaching on the new birth, John Piper shows us how to be certain our faith is genuine. Because no issue could be more critical, I believe this is the most important book Piper has written. It could be the most important book outside of the Bible that you or your loved one will ever read. I was privileged to have the opportunity to read this prior to launch and it moved me profoundly, challenging me once more to be sure of my own salvation and to appreciate more fully what God has done for me.

John Piper has a Q and A where he explains why he wrote this book:

I am deeply concerned that there are many church members in America and beyond who think they are saved when they are not. Part of the reason for this nominalism is a failure to teach and understand the true meaning of the new birth.

You must be born again. It is a miracle. Many, I fear, don’t even want to think in terms of “being saved” as being in the category of a miracle that only God can perform. They want it to be a decision based wholly on human power involving no necessary miracle. That is deadly.

For those who are truly born again, I want them to exult in what has really happened to them. Many who are truly born again do not know the nature of the change that has happened to them. It is a good thing to know—so that Christ can be honored for the fullness of his glorious work, and so that people can enjoy the assurance of being the objects of that miraculous act.

Finally, I want the new birth to happen more and more. God does the new birth through the word. I pray that the sermons and the book will be a means used by God for the working of this miracle of new birth.

emphasis added

I recently read Spectacular Sins and liked it very much. I think Finally Alive will find a way into the reading rotation.

rick warren

I was watching this video (HT challies) and thinking about universal v. limited atonement. the questioner takes Rick’s universal atonement position and just wraps it around his neck like a bunch of stinky garlic. Rick tries to wiggle and squirm, but I don’t think he quite succeeds in escaping the logic of universal salvation following naturally from universal atonement. Very interesting stuff.

here is the video.