I’ve been pleasantly surprised with a number of books I’ve read at the close of the year. Here are a few of them:
The Road to Missional (Frost) – This is one of those clarifying books for the missional conversation, especially on the topic of evangelism vs. social justice. I’ve marked quite a few lines and have a review forthcoming with Gospel Coalition.
The Holy Spirit in Mission (Tyra)- A book I would have been proud to write. It integrates biblical theology, pneumatology, and practice of mission well. Very clear and compelling.
Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, & Naturalism (Plantinga) – Plantinga writes with such cogency, that’s half the joy of reading him. The book is much more than well-written prose, however. He argues well for a distinction between Science and Naturalism, the latter having all the trappings of a religion, offering answers for religious questions and requiring faith. He also demonstrates a deep concord between Science and Faith, particularly Christian theism.
The Meaning of Marriage (Kellers) – It opens with a nice apologetic for marriage on both cultural and theological grounds but moves quickly into the specifics of a marriage constructed on the gospel, truth and love, between husband and wife. In the chapter entitled “The Power of Marriage” the Kellers uncorks the Spirit of Truth as the power for a gospel-centered marriage. Refreshing but conservative on the Spirit. Here’s a video intro. There are some inspiring vistas and deep pools of wisdom in The Meaning of Marriage.
Ahh, Christmas the most
wonderful stressful time of the year! C. S. Lewis had a hard time with Christmas too. In fact, in several essays he denounces the contemporary celebration of Christmas. In “What Christmas Means to Me” he lists four reasons he condemns commercial Christmas.
- It gives on the whole much more pain the pleasure…Long before December 25th everyone is worn out…They look far more as if there had been a long illness in the house.
- It is predicated on involuntary gift-giving. The modern rule is that anyone can force you to give him a present by sending you a quite unprovoked present of his own. It is almost blackmail. Consider the despair and resentment when an unexpected person gives you a gift at the last minute!
- The waste of money and human skill in buying gaudy and useless gadgets. Have we really no better use for material and of human skill and time that to spend them on all this rubbish?
- The nuisance of it all. It is in fact merely one annual symptom of that lunatic condition of our country…in which everyone lives by persuading everyone else to buy things. I’d sooner give them money for nothing and write it off as charity.
Read this helpful excerpt from an interview with Tullian Tchividijian regarding his new book: Jesus + Nothing = Everything.
Legalism: The Enemy of the Gospel
There’s a common misunderstanding in today’s church, which says there are two equal dangers Christians must avoid. On one side of the road is a ditch called “legalism”; on the other is a ditch called “license” or “lawlessness.” Legalism, they say, happens when you focus too much on law, on rules.
Lawlessness, they say, happens when you focus too much on grace. Therefore, in order to maintain spiritual equilibrium, you have to balance law and grace. If you start getting too much law, you need to balance it with grace. If you start getting too much grace, you need to balance it with law. This dichotomy exposes our failure to understand gospel grace as it really is; it betrays our blindness to all the radical depth and beauty of grace.
It’s much more theologically accurate to say that there is one primary enemy of the gospel–legalism–but it comes in two forms. Some people avoid the gospel and try to “save” themselves by keeping the rules, doing what they’re told, maintaining the standards, and so on (I call this “front-door legalism”). Other people avoid the gospel and try to “save” themselves by breaking the rules, doing whatever they want, developing their own autonomous standards, and so on (“back-door legalism”). In other words, there are two “laws” we can choose to live by apart from Christ: the law which says, “I can find freedom and fullness of life if I keep the rules,” and the law which says, “I can find freedom and fullness of life if I break the rules.” Either way, you’re trying to “save” yourself, which means both are legalistic because both are self-salvation projects. So what some call “license” is just another form of legalism.
Get the book Read Rest of Interview
Things are warming up for the release of Gospel-Centered Discipleship. This book has turned out to be a blend of theology and practice of discipleship. While retaining the core elements of my self-published Fight Clubs, GCD is certainly a new book in many respects.
This Fall, I’m testing out some of the new material on the road (while working out new material at home for a follow up book). I’ll be speaking on discipleship in Georgia and Florida over the next two weeks. So, hopefully these ideas will get good traction for the gospel in those churches and ministries.
For now, I thought I’d throw up some of the promo design Crossway has put together. I really like it. Hope you do too!