Monthly Archives: August 2013

Review: Finding the Will of God: A Pagan Notion?

FWGAPN

We all have questions. We all want answers. We go to school to learn about our future career? But which career should we pick? When will I find that perfect person to marry? Which car will last the longest? Which house will be best fit? How many kids should we have? Will we have enough money? Should I even get married? Lord, what do you want me to do?
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We’ve all been in situations where we  wanted God to condescend to our level and whisper into our ears the answer to our situation or to life’s biggest questions. But it can be so frustrating trying to find out what His will is. What Father hides the best from His children? If He’s our loving Father then why do we have to ‘find’ out what His will is? Do we pray harder, read more of the Bible, and try to live a better life?
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Waltke starts his introduces his book with 3 points:
1. Theology is Truth: Man does not know everything. To know everything man must either have a continually exhausting understanding of every thing, or else he knows nothing. But we desire certainty, values, and meaning. The Holy spirit tells us the Bible is truth, and we are continually dependent of the Holy Spirit.

2. Theology is Essential to Spiritual Formation: Apart from God’s regeneration and the work of the Holy Spirit we cannot understand the text clearly for it to change out lives. We will be stuck not growing and not wanting to follow God.

3. Theology is a Way of Life: What we believe about God will shape how we live for God. As we are led by the Spirit to understand God more fully, then we will experience “the will of God.”

Is Finding God’s Will a Biblical Idea?

Do we find God’s will through a set of coincidental circumstances? Do we empty our minds, pray, and see what pops back in first? Do we flip to a random page in our Bible, or maybe it’s a sign when that ‘special person’ actually answers the phone? If our heavenly Father really does love us, why would He hide His will from us?
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The problem is that we don’t want to make a mistake. We want to know if we should go left or right. Marry her or her or her…. (or for the ladies, marry him or him or him…). Take this job or go to school for that career. What would be the best decision? We want to know that when difficulty comes, it’s at least because we made the right decision. We don’t want problems because we made the wrong decision.

Magic 8 Ball

In Acts, when God led men like Paul, Philip, and Peter into a special circumstance, the special guidance was not being sought. When Abraham was to sacrifice his son, he obeyed the Lord (who did intervene). Abraham and the apostles didn’t look for special signs. They walked close with the Lord and obeyed.

The Gist

Waltke asks if we can we ever know God’s will? He examines many practices that some Christians pass off as divine guidance: following hunches, casting lots, looking for signs, dreams, audible words from the Lord, etc. He doesn’t completely discount these things. God could certainly speak to us in a dream, audibly, or by the flip of a coin if He wanted to, but this is not always the case. In fact, it is not usually the case. Waltke points out that the ‘wisdom’ in James 1:5 isn’t speaking about a ‘special revelation’ on a certain decision, but wisdom is a way of life: purity, peacefulness, and gentleness (James 3:13-17).

Waltke spends chapters 2-3 talking about the ways pagans sought, through divinations, the will of the gods, and how God’s will was (rightfully) sought in the OT. In chapter 4 he says that we don’t need to do those things anymore. I won’t talk about them much so as to not give too much more away, but he elaborates on God’s program of guidance: Reading your Bible, prayer, developing a heart of God, seeking wise counsel, looking for God’s providence (sometimes circumstances do/don’t go in a certain way), if the situation makes sense, and divine intervention.

Recommended?

Totally. Waltke talks about the wrong ways to look for God’s will and the correct, “common sense” ways to do it. The point isn’t just to come to God when you’re in a tough spot, get the answer, and then go on with life. It’s to have an ongoing relationship with God. Life will always be filled with tough decisions, gray areas, and seemingly impossible paths. What do you do? Well, following Waltke’s advice won’t clear all of life’s difficulties, but as you are conformed to Christ the more likely you are to know and make the right choices.
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My only
Spoiled Milk is that Waltke says after Pentecost in Acts 2, no one ever sought the Lord’s will. I would have liked for Waltke to have elaborated more on different times in Acts when Paul (and Barnabas) sought the Lord. But the reason is probably that Paul probably didn’t have to because he and Barnabas didn’t try to “divine” the will of the Lord. They simply walked with the Lord, fasted, prayed, and used some common sense here and there.
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Only by walking with Him will we have the heart of God and know what pleases Him.

Lagniappe

  • Hardcover: 181 pages (Softcover: 194 pgs)
  • Publisher: Eerdmans (January 30, 2002)
  • Amazon
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Paul and the Law (NSBT)

Paul and the Law

“For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God” (1 Cor. 7:19).

The apostle Paul’s relationship to the Law of Moses is notoriously complex and much studied. Many people, scholars, pastors, students, and laymen alike all have trouble with what Paul does with the Law. What is the relationship of the Law of Moses to the Jews? The Gentiles? To Christians? What are it’s different functions? What does Paul mean when he talks about ‘the Law’?

Brian Rosner is coming out with Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God in the NSBT (New Studies in Biblical Theology) series.

Intertwined in Paul’s view of the law is his teaching concerning salvation history, Israel, the church, anthropology, ethics and eschatology. To misunderstand Paul’s teaching on the Law is to misunderstand Paul’s teaching! Understanding what Paul says is important because it touches on the old question of the relationship between the grace of God in the gift of salvation and the demand of God in the call for holy living.

The NSBT series is written in a more readable-level than other books on biblical studies. It attempts to help Christians think and better understand their Bibles. The series aims to instruct and to edify, to interact with the current literature, and to point the way ahead. In God’s universe, mind and heart should not be divorced. The volumes are written within the framework of confessional evangelicalism, but there is always an attempt at thoughtful engagement with the sweep of the relevant literature (1).

[The New Studies in Biblical Theology series is edited by D. A. Carson and published by Apollos (an imprint of Inter-Varsity Press in the UK) and InterVarsity Press].

IVP BOOKS: Paul and the Law
Rosner has also written books on Pauline Ethics and a commentary on 1 Corinthians in the Pillar series.

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Review: Delighting in the Trinity

Delighting in the Trinity


Why is God love? 
 Because God is a Trinity.
Why can we be saved?  Because God is a Trinity.
How are we able to live the Christian life?  Through the Trinity.

In Reeves’s book he brings us an introduction to Christianity and our daily living that is rooted in the triune God who we worship, Father, Son, and Spirit. Through the Trinity we understand the person and work of Christ, along with prayer, the church, and every aspect of our faith. His book isn’t a point-by-point basis of ‘who/what’ the Trinity is, but why Christians should rejoice in the Trinity. We can have comfort and joy in knowing that our triune God is beyond comparison with any other god made up by man.

“Is there a God besides Me? There is no Rock; I know not any,” Isaiah 44:8b.

Altogether there are 7 chapters:

  1. Introduction: Here Be Dragons? 
  2. What Was God Doing Before Creation?
  3. Creation: The Father’s Love Overflows
  4. Salvation: The Son Shares What Is His
  5. The Christian Life: The Spirit Beautifies
  6. “Who Among the Gods Is Like You, O Lord?”
  7. Conclusion: No Other Choice

Reeves’s basis is: What is the point of the Trinity? Why does it matter if we have one or not? How does what I know about the Trinity affect my daily living?

When we look at Michelangelo’s painting “The Creation of Adam” in the Sistine Chapel, we see Adam limply holding his hand out, being supported by his knee. But to whom? As we continue to scan the painting, we see that he is barely holding his hand out to God who is reaching out, almost straining, to make contact with Adam.

All of humankind has this kind of meager attitude (less actually) toward God. But the Father, overflowing in love, created us and sent His Son to die and share in what He has so that we could be co-inheritors with Christ and be reunited with God who then gives us even more: His Spirit, who “not only enables us to know and love Christ; he also gives us the mind of Christ, making us like him” (pg. 95). And the best we can do is lift up a finger, as if even pointing to God is going too far.

This book is about the love of the Trinity for mankind and how it is so unexpected, undeserved, unmerited, and how God continues to show His mercy on us even still.

The Chocolate Milk

  • He says that the Trinity isn’t an oddity (for it is who God is, and God isn’t odd), but many of the images people use to describe God (eggs, water, a shamrock, even bacon) make the Trinity seem anything but ‘normal.’ Reeves then goes on to show how we can begin to view the Trinity as something normal.
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  • At 121 pages it is a short and simple read: I read this book before I arrived in York Spring ’13. I read the first two chapters at home, and then the other 5 on the plane ride over to the UK. It was so interesting I couldn’t put it down, but it was so simple I didn’t want to put it down!
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  • It’s a deep read: But simple doesn’t equal childish. This book can be understood by high schoolers to scholars to pastors to teachers to moms and dads. It’s not a book on being able to spit out facts on the omniscience of the Holy Spirit and how the hypostatic union of Christ works. It’s not about brainy knowledge. It’s about a true relationship, and the more we see how much God loves us (though we’ll never scratch the surface), the more we want to be enveloped in that love and spend time with Him and live in a way that pleases Him.
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  • Every few pages Reeves puts a rabbit trail in a gray box for us to read; a subsection on the main section. The subjects range from what church father’s have had to say about the Trinity, how all of humankind is motivated by love (either for God or for ourselves), prayer, knowing God, etc. It all relates back to the chapter and his main theme of knowing the Trinity more in terms of a relationship, not facts and mo’ higha’ knowledge.
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  • In Chapter 2 (Creation), Reeves brings up a contrast between Babylon’s Marduk + Islam’s Allah vs.  the God of Christianity. What makes creation through our eyes any different from theirs? How could the Father be loving if He were by Himself before creation? How could He be the Father? Was He just loving Himself? That’s a bit selfish.
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    “Think of God the Father: he is, by his very nature, life-giving. He is a father. One has to wonder if a barren god, who is not a father, is capable of giving life and so birthing creation. But one can have no such doubts with the Father: for eternity he has been fruitful, potent, vitalizing. For such a God (and only for such a God) it seems very natural and entirely unsurprising that he should bring about more life and so create” (pg. 41-42).

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    Not all gods are the same. 
    Not all religions are the same. Not all beliefs are the same. And to disagree with Oprah, my God, the Christian God, is a jealous God because He is so loving. 

The Spoiled Milk

  • I have no qualms with this book. I only wish it had more pages (a mere 121 pgs!) or a sequel.

Recommended?

Exceedingly so.

Too often we hear the word “Trinity,” sigh, roll our eyes, and don’t even bother because God is ‘too big and unknowable’ that we might as well not even try.

Granted, this book can’t do everything. The doctrine of the Trinity is a huge concept. You won’t understand everything about the Trinity after you read this book. But you will understand and appreciate the Trinity much more after reading this book. Life changing? This book isn’t salvation, but you’ll look differently at God and all He has done.
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This book has a lot of good points and quotes; you’ll want to have a highlighter (or two), a pen, and a pencil on hand. It’s no replacement for the Bible, but a (great) supplement and help. This book is written with warmth and humor, and you will enjoy every moment of it.

Who would benefit from this book?

Everyone. Anyone. While I would say high school on up, Reeves writes in such a way that makes it easy to teach the principles to children. All would benefit from this book.

Lagniappe

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Review: Against the Gods

Against the Gods

This book is about the relationship between the writings of the Old Testament and other ANE (ancient Near Eastern) literature. If you’ve never heard of this field of study, you may be surprised to hear that it (as with anything that has to do with the Bible) is a heavily debated topic: how does the Bible relate with ANE literature? Some believe ANE studies are actually a danger to Scripture. Others say the Old Testament is not unique but merely another book of ANE myths simply retold to another audience.
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The truth lies somewhere between these two extremes.
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“And I care…why?”
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The context of much of the Old Testament is set in the ANE culture, yet the Old Testament (and the Bible as a whole) is grounded in monotheism. So what is the Old Testament’s relationship to ANE literature?
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If you’ve never heard of this, it’s more interesting than you might think.
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Currid’s objective is to show that the idea of polemics (here and here) in literature is not foreign to the Old Testament, it was very common in ANE culture, and the Old Testament writers used it well.
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  • What is Polemical Theology? It is “the use by biblical writers of … stories that were common in ANE culture, while filling them with radically new meaning. The biblical authors take well-known expressions … from the ANE milieu and apply them to the person and work of Yahweh, and not to the other gods of the ancient world.” It “rejects any encroachment [invasion] of false gods into orthodox belief; there is an absolute intolerance of polytheism. Polemical theology is monotheistic to the very core.”

It’s purpose is to emphatically demonstrate the distinctions between the worldviews of the Hebrews and the rest of the ANE.
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The Chocolate Milk

  • Currid looks at the parallels in the ANE/Bible stories before giving the contrasts. It actually builds suspense because, even though I know he’s going to prove his point, it leads me to try to figure out how he’ll dig himself out of the hole he’s in. [Spoiler: he does].
  • Currid sets out to prove the authenticity of the Bible’s polemics. Just because there are parallels between an ANE myth and the Bible doesn’t mean that both are myths. There’s no reason one cannot be myth and the other true history. Just because TV has “Desperate Housewives” doesn’t mean that newspaper stories of adultery are fake. So even the stories of a “spurned seductress” in ANE myths doesn’t mean there can’t be a true account in Genesis [38, with Joseph and Potiphar’s wife].
  • The real highlight of the book was the Polemical Angle at the end of almost every chapter.

For example: At the end of chapter 3 Currid shows what it meant for Genesis 1-2 as a creation story to be a polemic against other ANE myths.
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  1. Genesis 1-2 isn’t written as a myth, but as a real historical narrative.

  2. There is one God in Genesis 1-2 (monotheism), and He is completely unlike humans. In ANE myths the polytheistic gods, much like people, they abuse their power, they’re full of envy and bitterness, and they’re sexual and perverted.

  3. God creates the world by His own will and power, not because He fought of sea creatures, or killed a god and spread her out to make the sky.

  4. In Genesis 1-2, though God is the main character, humans take on a much more personal role. They are given life by the breath of God. He allows them responsibility. He teaches them lessons and gives them a garden to live in and take pleasure in. In ANE myths humans take a backseat to the story. They’re just created to work. The gods care little about the people.

The Spoiled Milk

  • This book is short. Not bad, but I felt like Currid spent more time talking about ANE parallels than polemics. And that was the main reason why I bought the book: the polemics. 
  • I’d rather know the biblical details than the ANE geographical details of where ANE literature was found, how much of it was found, the different kinds of lists found, etc (ex: Atrahasis at Ugarit, p. 53; Hittite Tales, p. 83; information about what the “Walls of the Ruler” is p.91). This is fine, but considering the size of the book, the polemical paragraphs were too short and too few.
  • In almost every chapter (meaning over and over) Currid would state the same 3 differences between the ANE account and the biblical account:
  1. Myth vs historical fact. 
  2. Theology (poly vs mono) (one God to rule them all). 
  3. The importance of humans in the Bible narrative vs ANE myths.
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    At least, these were usually worded differently in each chapter, and there was still the P/A section in the end.
  • One big one for me was in Chapter 10 (The Parting of the Waters of the Red Sea). Instead of spelling out the arguments on how God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, Currid doesn’t want to repeat himself and instead points us to the “relevant literature” (an article he wrote in Bible Review [1993]).
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    I understand there may be page # restrictions, but I don’t want to have to search out a magazine from 20 years ago when I could read it in the book, especially when I can’t seem to find the copy on the internet (for free, at least).
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    Considering Pharaoh’s hardened heart is a well-known, difficult Bible passage, and seeing how it relates to Egypt literature is very important to understand the meaning, I don’t think anyone would mind if Currid repeated himself here. (And swapped it with a few ANE readings…)
  • Unfortunately, the Polemical Angle/Analysis section isn’t as long as I expected it to be. For something to be so central to the book, the P/A section just didn’t have enough depth. Every time I was left wanting. I read more ANE stories of people who’s names I’ll never remember than I did reasons why Moses wrote the polemic in the first place.
  • This book was promising, but left me disappointed.

Recommended?

No. Not to most people.
If you’re a teacher who wants to know more about ANE parallels with the Bible, or a student who has a Bible-bashing college history teacher, then sure, this book would be of help.
But most people just won’t want to read this book, especially when there’s more ANE information than polemical detail available.
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For most people, just listen to iTunesU: Crass Plagiarism. These three 30-40 min. lectures are very interesting, short, and were the reason I wanted to get this book. You’ll learn a lot from them.
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Lagniappe

Thanks

[P.S. Thanks to Netgalley.com and Crossway for allowing me a free copy to read and review! The words expressed above are my own opinion of the book. Page numbers are from the Adobe Digital Editions version.]

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Toothpaste For Dinner

I also like these guys.

Hoarders Hoarder


Toothpaste For Dinner

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Review: To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain

Chandler, To Live is Christ

I like Matt Chandler. He’s the pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, TX. I’ve only heard a few of his teachings (Homosexuality and the Church and God and Sex to name a few) but I’ve enjoyed all that I’ve heard so far. He’s a smart guy with common sense and a good mix of sarcasm (which always bodes well with me).

Chandler wrote this book “to invite readers into authentic Christian maturity.” In his book, Chandler looks at some of Paul’s themes in Philippians, a letter written to help grow one to maturity, to unity, to contentment in Christ, to learn and walk in humility, and to persevere through Christ in all circumstances. “Our lives should be lived to Him, through Him, for Him, with Him, about Him—everything should be about Jesus.”

The Chocolate Milk:

The first three chapters were fine, but the book really started to open up for me on chapter 4.

  1. Chapter 4 (What the Humble Seek) speaks right to the heart of being humble. It’s about showing humility to a world that wants to show off. We don’t want to be like Paul and boast in our weaknesses. The world points them out to us enough. But Chandler asks the pointed question: “Why do we follow God?” (42). Do we follow Him because we’re hoping for a nice mansion on earth, or because of who He is and what He’s done despite what the world does to us?
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    The life of humility is based on the cross of Christ. We have the mind of Christ, given as a gift at salvation. We don’t have to try to think hard like Jesus. We have His Spirit, we have access to God, and we should use His mind to humble ourselves, love God, and love others.
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  2. Chapter 5 (The Passionate Pursuit)  was about yearning for a relationship with Christ over trying to be good for Him. Chandler in no way discredits trying to live a righteous life. What he tries to do away with is living to be a better person over knowing God. David’s psalms ranged from being satisfied in God (Ps. 63:5to being a famished deer searching for a river from which he could drink and live (Ps. 42:1).
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    David never says, “God, I just wish I was a better guy who didn’t do such and such…” It’s not being a better man/woman that leads to abundant life (Jn. 10:10). It’s knowing God through Jesus Christ. “It’s the difference between obeying to be accepted and obeying because we are accepted” (78).
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  3. Chandler advocates for being content in Christ and discontent in ourselves. We are discontent with ourselves because we know we are not perfect. So we strive for that perfection, to get stronger in our weaknesses (prayer, studying, evangelism, serving, etc), though God will use us despite our weaknesses.
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    We are like Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:14: conquered slaves who are “led in triumph by the victorious Christ. Just as the triumphator would parade conquered enemies in a triumphal parade, so Christ, who conquered his enemy, Paul….is now leading Paul in triumph” (Jim Hamilton and Scott Hafemann).
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  4. In chapter 11 (Christ Is All), Chandler’s focus is Philippians 4:10-14. He goes through the life of Paul seen in the book of Acts, his beatings in 2 Corinthians 11, and his contentment in any situation. Paul has been whipped, beaten, and stoned nine times altogether, plus another three shipwrecks, and a 24-hour surf tour on a board on the sea. Paul’s life is an example of a real party-pooper for me when I want to complain. And it’s good for me. 
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  5. Chandler’s book is theologically sound. His points and arguments come from scripture, his examples are interesting and (take note, Judah Smith) to the point, and he’s level-headed and has good common sense. He doesn’t fall toward any extreme, weird views (that I know of). Even if you disagree with him, there’s nothing in this book that I saw as being ‘way out there.’

The Spoiled Milk:

  1. In chapter 1 (Odd Beginnings), Chandler talks about how the jailer was told to keep the missionaries safe, but instead he tortures them with the stocks (14). Chandler tells us that the jailer is probably a simple blue-collar worker “who wants to put in his time at work so he can go home, have a beer, and watch the game. He just wants to do his job well, honor his imperial employers, and get back to his well-ordered house” (15).So the first jailer doesn’t listen to his employer, the second wants to honor his employer. It sounds like these are two different people (though they are not). I’ll admit it’s nit-picky, but it’s a segue into my next point.
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  2. There are a few times where Chandler takes a passage or a scenario from the ancient Roman world and tries to convert it to our modern day culture. But he couldn’t build the cultural-bridge to make it really hit home. I’ll give two examples: +
    • In chapter 1, after talking about the ‘blue-collar’ jailer, Chandler says the guy probably just wanted to go home, “have a beer, and watch a game.” Romans didn’t “have a beer, and watch a game.” In fact, is that what the jailer would really want to do? Instead of telling the reader what a normal Roman citizen would do, unlocking the door to relate it to our culture, Chandler jumps the fence and brings it straight over to what we think is ‘normal.’ Even though I know what he’s getting at, I still couldn’t help but think, “But what would a Roman really want to do?”
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    • In Chapter 5 (The Passionate Pursuit), Chandler says the dogs from Philippians 3 are those who say, “I’m not as bad as I was when I was in college. I’m not as bad as I was when I first got married. I’m not as bad as you” (53). They want to think and say those things for their superior spiritual/moral goodness. Again it would have been more helpful if Chandler would have said who the dogs were and then applied it to the reader’s life. Instead, he mentions the dogs and then jumps to applying it to the reader’s life. So the “dogs” are a bunch of pro-foreskin-cutting Judaizers. How does this relate to me? They think circumcision is met with God’s approval. Now I can relate them with the “I’m not as bad as I was when…” mentality.

These are only small examples, and I’m glad there are no major examples. I really didn’t find much of anything in this book that I had problems with. But this jumped out at me, so take it for what it’s worth. Remember, this is free information, so you’re getting what you paid for.

Recommended?

I’m not an avid reader of preacher’s application books like this and Judah Smith’s Jesus is… ? (review here). Yet I don’t know if there’s a Chandler book that could really go wrong. This book would be geared more toward any member of the church, especially youth and college age. While not as engaging as Judah Smith as a writer, Chandler’s book is more mature and has more depth to it.

Lagniappe:

Thank you

[Thanks to Netgalley.com and David C. Cook for allowing me a free copy to read and review! The words expressed above are my own opinions of the book. Page numbers are from the Adobe Digital Editions version.]

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Review: Radical

radical

Overused words in Christianity:

  • Guard your heart 
  • I don’t feel led 
  • When plans fall through: It was the Lord’s will 
  • Hedge of protection
  • “Are you in tune with the Spirit?” (No, but I have DVR just in case) 
  • Everything happens for a reason
  • “God told me I’m going to marry you.” (Oh, well, I’ll let you know when He tells me too…)
  • Starting every sentence with “Brothers and sisters.”
  • Authentic
  • Missional
  • Organic
  • Audacious (faith)

And, last but not least…. 

I don’t say this to pick on anyone specifically (I actually Googled “overused Christian phrases” to find some of these). I’ve said some of these too, and I probably will still say them. Often times we simply say these words out of habit. If I had a feather for every time Platt said “radical”, I’d have a chicken.

Before I went to Germany, I borrowed this book from a friend of mine who’s doing mission work in India. I finally read it a few weeks ago, and what piqued my interest was hearing that David Platt tells people to downsize their houses, live cheaper, give their money to the poor, live with the poor, etc. Because this is a popular book I wanted to see if that was true. Thankfully it wasn’t, but I do have some reservations with this book.

The Chocolate Milk

  • This book was better than I thought it would be. Whatever it was that I heard about the book was wrong. Platt actually doesn’t tell you the reader to downsize their house, their car, their income, go move to the inner city, etc. He gives examples of some in his church and others who he knows who have done so to remove themselves from the “American dream” and to spread the Gospel to those they wouldn’t normally reach.
  • Platt does a good job of pointing the reader away from the American dream and directing them toward sending help (financial/physical) to the lost here in America and in other parts of the world. Living in America, even the poor make more money than most of the world. (If you make $9,000 a year, you make more than 85% of the world).
  • Salvation doesn’t mean we can live however we want. It doesn’t mean we have a new liberty in Christ so we can sin however much we want and know we’ll be forgiven. There should be a life-style change (pp. 38-39). Making money isn’t wrong, but there’s more to life than spending it all on our wants and desires (2 Corinthians 8:9, 12-13). There are others who really need it.There are missionaries who are in Mongolia and live on $1 a day. Starving kids in Zimbabwe. AIDs victims in the Sahara. It’s not the “Social Gospel” of merely meeting everyone’s physical needs, but it’s showing love by sacrifice.
  • Platt doesn’t tell us to put legalistic pressures on ourselves or on others. We should ask ourselves and pray about how much we should keep and how much we should give. We don’t want to be like the slacker who refused to work and then didn’t have any food saved for the winter (Proverbs 6:6-9), but we don’t want to be like the hoarder who can’t even find their bed when it’s time to sleep.

The Spoiled Milk

So now, comes the main attraction.

My biggest peeve with the book is one theme that was implied throughout the whole book.
It’s only one word.

  • Dichotomy

    Maybe he doesn’t intend to do this, but Platt makes a distinction between Christians who live this “radical” way, and those Christians who don’t. So if you aren’t a Radical Christian, then you’re an Ordinary Christian? What’s an ordinary Christian to do? First, the only time I hear the word “radical” is if I’m watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or the News. And when I watch the news, radical is never a good term (radical Islam, radical right-wing, radical left, radical Christians, radical extremist, radical obesity, etc).

    ….maybe I would rather be an Ordinary Christian.

  • What happens if you’re a father or mother who has to work 2-3 jobs because your spouse is disabled (or you’re a single parent), you have hungry kids, you have bills to pay, and life isn’t cutting you a break? What are you to do if you can’t do any of the radical suggestions in this book? What if you already live in the inner city and still you’re barely scraping ends meet? What do you do?Simple. You live.In Acts 17:28a Paul, talking to the men of Athens, says, “…for in Him [the Lord] we live and move and have our being.”
    1 Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”Just living to please God is radical enough, because the world hates  God.
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  • An issue I had with Radical was that it feels like Platt assumes his audience is wholly made up of self-centered, money-hungry, American Christians who live in 3-story houses and have nothing better to do with their lives but think about making their next buck. And if he doesn’t think this about his audience, a simple footnote wouldn’t hurt.

“Yeah, but, being Radical seems so…Radical!”

  • In 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, Paul speaks on the character of leaders in the church. The letters aren’t very exciting. The character traits are pretty generic. There’s no specific, computer-generated questionnaire to see who is fit for the job. We might be prone to expect mighty heroes who can change city with a single sermon, so seeing the list of character traits in Timothy/Titus can be pretty mundane.  But today, with imminent crumbling of morality, leaders who live a solid, faithful, and (probably) unspectacular life will stand out.
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    Today, everyone is always busy doing something to be entertained. Paul says to “lead a quiet life, [and] to mind your own business” (1 Thess 4:11-12) and to avoid laziness (2 Thess. 3:6). This new group of Christians in Thessalonica were being pressured by family, friends, coworkers, and community to turn from their new ‘weird’ faith and come back to worshiping idols. They received mocking, humiliations, and perhaps persecution on all fronts. Paul reassures his love for them, God’s love for them, and to live in a peaceful way that removes all doubt from the mouths of those who hate them.
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  • Please don’t think I’m knocking missionaries. I’m not. It runs in the family. And I’m not saying is that it’s okay for you to sit on your butt waiting for the next big thing in your life to happen. You can’t be lazy (2 Thess. 3:6) and hope that everything will go right for you. What’s really radical?
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    1. Loving your spouse: In a country where the divorce rate is roughly 50%, actually staying married is an amazing feat worth applauding. Of course, it comes with much prayer, struggling, and sacrifice. Not that I would know…
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    2. Raising your kids to love God and being the godly example for them: Make rules, stick to them, and be gracious. If you err, err on grace. Show them what the love of Christ, what it means to love a man or woman (your spouse) in the right way, and how to take responsibility for your actions.

    3. Keeping a good Christian image to the world: there are a lot of weirdos out there. Some are just odd, while others are wayyyyy out there. (Understandably, the world is going to hate us anyway. But being weird doesn’t help either).
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    4. Read your Bible, study your Bible, and pray: We all know we should do this. We’ve all heard about how much we should do this. But do we do it? Do I do it? Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do it every day. We’re human. All of the “good guys” in the Bible (except for Jesus) had character flaws. But the more you grow and learn, the more you mature, the more you’ll be apt to reading, studying, and praying. And what makes you more mature? Reading. Studying. Praying. Circumstances in life that show you you’re inadequate, and God is fully adequate. Reading your Bible and praying are essential, but they’re pretty radical too.
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    5. Love the world: Love the people who are in the world. Show them you care by the way you treat them. But use common sense too.
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    “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt 10:16). The gospel takes work. Time. Sacrifice. Getting close to people. Opening up to them. Being real. Being held accountable. It’s hands-on.
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  • This book was boring. The last chapter or two consisted of a wrestling match on if I should even finish the book or not.
    I did.
    Mostly.

    Here’s a chiasm (here and here) of the book:

    A Boring (Ch 1-4a)
          X Not Boring (Ch 4b-6)
    A` Boring (Ch 7-9)
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  • If I see the word radical one more time…
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Recommended?

No. Just read this review and this blog on Ordinary Christians.

I know some people have read this book and have been greatly encouraged, and I’m glad. But it didn’t do much for me.

Alternative:

I really enjoyed K. P. Yohannan’s book Revolution in World Missions. You can get it free here. I don’t remember much, but he vies for sending money to a missionary who is actually from the country he evangelizes to. (So an Uzbekistan missionary is from Uzbekistan and he lives to spread the gospel there). The missionary’s lived there his whole life so he knows the quirks, customs, religions of his people.

It doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t do missions work. I think everyone should go on at least one missions trip at some point. But I really liked his approach to it too.

Lagniappe:

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