Worldliness — Honest Talk About Seduction

My friend C. J. Mahaney and a few of his friends have written a powerhouse of a book in Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World (Crossway).  In its essence, worldliness is “a love for the fallen world,” C. J. explains.  “It’s loving the values and pursuits of the world that stand opposed to God.”  More emphatically, it is “to gratify and exalt oneself to the exclusion of God.”

Just in case anyone might miss how to apply this, C. J. and his team go right after major temptations inherent in worldliness.  Craig Cabaniss writes about worldliness and media with good insight.  To no surprise, Bob Kauflin goes after music, bringing the same theological insights he brings to his music ministry.  Take this zinger, for example:  Bob warns that a sign that music has become an idol is when our passion for Christ has waned but our passion for music has not.

Dave Harvey writes about worldliness and “our stuff.”  (Loved his warning about “virtual giving.”)  C. J. then turns to worldliness and dress, offering good and much needed advice, and Jeff Purswell then concludes by talking about the Christian’s right understanding of the world.  We are not here by accident.

Worldliness offers other good features, including a foreword by John Piper.  Most importantly, the book is Gospel-centered and avoids both legalism and antinomianism.  It is also well-timed for the Christmas season.  Read it, savor it, ponder it . . .  and then give a copy to someone else.

On the Other Hand, Protestant Courage

David F. Wells is, hands down, one of the most insightful analysts of contemporary Christianity.  Well known as the Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Wells is a theologian best known for four courageous and important books, No Place for Truth, God in the Wasteland, Losing Our Virtue, and Above All Earthly Pow’rs.

Now, in The Courage to Be Protestant, Wells offers what amounts to a fifth volume in his series–a capstone to his argument.

In The Courage to Be Protestant, Wells bravely criticizes those who would offer theological and spiritual reductionism in the name of marketing as well as those who would steer the Evangelical movement toward the postmodern embrace of the “Emergents.”

Looking at present-day Evangelicalism, Wells sees shrinking doctrine and a disappearing church.  It takes no courage to “sign-up” as a Protestant, he argues, but it takes considerable courage to believe and act as a Protestant.

The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World is must reading.   After reading this book, go back and read Wells’ previous four-volume series.

An excerpt:

Traditional Christian faith holds to the outside God who stands over against us.  He is known not because we have discovered him, but because he has made himself known in Scripture and in Christ.  We are not left to piece together our understanding of him.  He has unveiled and defined himself for us.  He has broken his concealment.  He has come into view and has told us who he is and how we are to live.

The inside god of this contemporary spirituality is different.  He emerges out of the psychology, the inner depths, of the seeker.  He is known through and within the self, and we piece together our knowledge of him (or her, or it) from the fragments of our experience coupled with our intuitions.  In so many ways this god, this sacred reality, is indistinguishable from how we experience ourselves.

I discussed this important book with author David Wells on the June 5, 2008 edition of The Albert Mohler Program [listen here].

Sons and Daughters of God — The Wonder of Adoption

The doctrine of adoption is one of the sweetest dimensions of salvation as revealed in Scripture.  Joel R. Beeke has written an inspiring and informative work on the doctrine that looks particularly to the Puritans for guidance.  Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption [Reformation Heritage Books] will educate and encourage Christians and help believers to understand the wonder of adoption and the comfort and challenge this represents for the Christian life.

An excerpt:

Above all, the Puritans use the truth of adoption to transform God’s needy children through powerful comforts.  Thomas Hooker shows how adoption comforts them in the face of their unworthiness, outward poverty, the contempt of the world, infirmities, afflictions, persecutions, and dangers.  When oppressed with sin, buffeted by Satan, enticed by the world, or alarmed by fears of death, believers are able to take refuge in their precious, heavenly Father, saying with [Samuel] Willard, “Am I not still a child?  And if so, then I am sure, that though he correct me (and I deserve it, nor will I refuse to submit myself patiently unto it) yet he cannot take away his loving kindness from me.”

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