Monthly Archives: November 2011

JRF

JRF’s #38 – Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears

Our community group read through this book together over the last few months.  I had previously read it when it was first published and had enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to reviewing it with the group.  Overall I would say the experience was good.  The simple truths about Jesus’ nature, message, work, and impact are explored and explained in blunt Driscoll style.  It was refreshing to meditate on the uniqueness and glory of the God/Man.  In addition it was thrilling to see some in the group discover different truths, perspectives and implications about Christ for the first time.

I used to be one of those guys who would rush to Driscoll’s defense whenever his unorthodox methodology was under attack (which is often).  I find myself compelled to defend Driscoll less and less these days.

When I read Vintage Jesus as a young youth pastor, I delighted in the funny and shocking stories Driscoll uses to illustrate his points (“the kids will think I’m cool when I use this one!”).  I won’t go into detail describing these illustrations, that would make me guilty of the same borderline filthy talk that I am accusing him of.  Suffice it to say that I believe his points could have been made without the explicit details of child sexual abuse, MTV, details of the contents of supermarket magazine racks, and postulations about Jesus farting with his disciples.  I know that Driscoll would (and has) said that he is just trying to make the timeless truths of Scripture relevant to the wicked culture in which we live, however the longer I walk with the Lord, the more I see that the purpose of God’s condescending revelation of Himself is not to drag Him down to our level but to call us up to His.  The ultimate purpose of the incarnation was not for Christ to become more like us, or even more palpable to us, it was for Him to make a way for us to know Him, be known by Him and be conformed to His likeness.  The revelation of Christ’s light shows us the depth of our darkness and displays the true relevance and irrelevance of all else.  Driscoll seems to be trying to illustrate the brightness of Christ’s light by detailing more of our darkness – effective up to a point but ultimately counterproductive in my opinion.  For example, to end the book with a reference to Sean “Puffy” Combs instead of exalting the glorious Risen Christ about whom this book is about is a dumb distraction at best.

Perhaps the reason Driscoll’s crassness so clearly bothered me this time around is that “coarse jesting” is a sin with which I am increasingly being convicted of in my own life.

With that rather large caveat (which could probably be applied to most of Driscoll’s ministry, although he has seemed to tone things down the older he gets) I would recommend this book to you for the purpose of expanding your understanding and awe of the person and work of the One King to whom every knee will eventually bow.

ron

Ron’s #43: Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson

Wanting to read a book that explicitly discusses the need for raising boys, I first thought of this volume. I know that raising a boy has specific challenges than raising girls because—gasp!—boys and girls are different. Contrary to what society has to say on the matter, there are differences in gender. Along with these differences come the different needs for these children. James Dobson addresses some of them well.

The part of the book I enjoyed the most is the need for boys to have a father. On many television shows and movies, the father is the dork or imbecile compared to the wise, all-knowing mother. This picture damages what the role of a man is in boys’ eyes. Dobson points out that a boy needs a father in order to grow up as a healthy man in society. With the many fatherless families in America, this results in a problem for all of society, but especially for that boy.

This book reminded me not only what my son needs, but also of what I need to give. He watches me and will become the man that I am. He will treat his wife the way I treat mine, he will talk the way I talk, and he will lead his family spiritually the way I lead mine, and he will trust Christ and pray the way I do. This is a tall order, one that I need grace for daily.

mark

Mark’s #48 – Where Men Win Glory:The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer

In 2002, when Pat Tillman left a lucrative career in the NFL at the peak of his athletic prime to enlist in the Army, many  journalists, sports fans, politicians, and ordinary people took notice.  Since Pat refused to do any media interviews regarding his decision, the public was left to merely speculate as to the motivation of such radical actions.  In my own mind, I figured Pat Tillman was merely an uber-patriot, all-American boy  who saw it as his duty to serve his country.

In this book, author Jon Krakauer uses his well developed journalist skills to uncover the depth and mystery of the background, history, philosophy of Pat Tillman.   Using journal entries from Pat’s diary, and interviews with Pat’s wife and friends, Krakauer shows that Tillman was not a shallow-minded jock, but rather a complicated man with deep emotions, thoughts, and beliefs.

As most people know, in 2004 Pat Tillman died from ‘friendly fire’ while serving in Afghanistan.  In the days, weeks, and months following his death, Army officers and officials attempted to cover-up the incident and spin the story to showcase Pat as an example of an American war hero.   In regards to both personal details of Tillman as well as the details of his death and subsequent cover-up, Krakauer showed his strength as a journalist.

However, on several occasions, it appears that Krakauer deliberately went off-script to make known his own personal political position.  Repeatedly, Krakauer attacked the Bush administration – even going into details surrounding the 2000 vote recount in Florida. On several occasions, Krakauer points out Tillman’s disdain for any attempt by the government to use his service or even his death as a propaganda point, yet it seems that Krakauer often does just this for his own political agenda.  It was at these points, where this book losses its objectivity and begins to sound more like an editorial than an unbiased work of an investigative journalist.

ron

Ron’s #42: Tartuffe by Moliere

Here is another school book that I reread to prepare for teaching it. Tartuffe is a hypocrite who deceives Orgon into betraying his family. It’s Moliere’s massive suck-up to King Lois XIV with the worst Deus ex machina I’ve read. It’s almost as bad as if it ended with waking up from a dream.

My last review is here.

ron

Ron’s #41: What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert

Whether you are a Christian or a non-Christian, Greg Gilbert’s What is the Gosepl? is one of the clearest overviews of what Christians believe. In about 122 pages, Gilbert discusses God, Man, Sin, the Cross, and Redemption. For the Christian, knowing the Gospel is pivotal in one’s sanctification.

Here is an overview of the Gospel and the book using Gilbert’s quotations:

“An emaciated gospel leads to emaciated worship. It lowers our eyes from God to self and cheapens what God has accomplished for us in Christ. The biblical gospel, by contrast, is like fuel in the furnace of worship. The more you understand about it, believe it, and rely on it, the more you adore God both for who he is and for what he has done for us in Christ” (20).

“We are accountable to the God who created us. We have sinned against that God and will be judged. But God has acted in Jesus Christ to save us, and we take hold of that salvation by repentance from sin and faith in Jesus. God. Man. Christ. Response” (32).

“A common view of God is that he’s much like an unscrupulous janitor. Instead of really dealing with the world’s dirt—its sin, evil, and wickedness—he simply sweeps it under the rug, ignores it, and hopes no one will notice. In fact, many people cannot conceive of a God who would do anything else. “God judge sin?” they say. “Punish me for wickedness? Of course he wouldn’t do that. It wouldn’t be loving” (43).

“Ultimately, it means that I’m the one who should have died, not Jesus. I should have been punished, not he. And yet he took my place. He died for me. They were my transgressions, but his wounds. My iniquities, but his chastisement. My sin, his sorrow. And his punishment bought my peace. His stripes won my healing. His grief, my joy. His death, my life” (68).

“Faith is not believing in something you can’t prove, as so many people define it. It is, biblically speaking, reliance. A rock-solid, truth-grounded, promise-founded trust in the risen Jesus to save you from sin” (73).

“Even as we slog through the trials, persecutions, irritations, temptations, distractions, apathy, and just plain weariness of this world, the gospel points us to heaven where our King Jesus—the Lamb of God who was crucified in our place and raised gloriously from the dead—now sits interceding for us. Not only so, but it calls us forward to that final day when heaven will be filled with the roaring noise of millions upon millions of forgiven voices hailing him as crucified Savior and risen King” (122).

Here is a link to Mark’s previous review of this book.

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