In this book Eldredge tackles seeks to give men permission to be what God created them to be – men. From his observation of culture (i.e. movies), histo...moreIn this book Eldredge tackles seeks to give men permission to be what God created them to be – men. From his observation of culture (i.e. movies), history and Scripture Eldredge reaches the conclusion that men are hardwired to seek (1) a battle to fight, (2) a beauty to rescue and (3) an adventure to live.
The motivation for this book is the cultural redefinition of masculinity into one of two extremes. Men are encouraged to be more feminine, squelching their masculinity, or they are encouraged to be hyper-masculine, driven by a macho mischaracterization of their masculinity.
While Eldridge approaches both issues in the book, his primary focus is against the “feminization” of men. With that in mind he sets out to reunite men with the battle, beauty, and adventure drive within them. But before he fleshes out those three points he spends the majority of the book laying the groundwork. He looks at the questions that haunt men, the wounds we carry, the battle for man’s heart and how ultimately the healing is found at the cross. This then sets the reader up to learn about the battle to be fought, the beauty to be rescued and the adventure to live.
I believe that Eldredge makes his point well but potentially distracts from his point in two ways. First, his handling of scripture led to some questionable views of God. Since this is not a theology book and he’s making observations from a human perspective rather than a doctrinal thesis I can understand his point of view, but nonetheless it was a distraction for me and has undermined the message of the entire book for others. Secondly, he only occasionally warns against turning manliness into a super-macho caricature, and at times, had I not noted the subtle warnings, I would have felt that he was advocating what he warned against. With those observations I still recommend this book, especially for men, young and old. At the very least it will push the reader outside the box and make him recognize that what passes for “manliness” in our culture is handicapping the type of man God wants us to be.(less)
The book “Bringing up Girls” is, as the subtitle suggests, a book full of “practical advice and encouragement for those shaping the next generation of...moreThe book “Bringing up Girls” is, as the subtitle suggests, a book full of “practical advice and encouragement for those shaping the next generation of women. And, as one might surmise from the title, the book covers how girls need to be brought up as, wait for it, girls! This is not a book for the feminist who wants to perpetuate the myth that the sexes are identical and only their upbringing creates differences between boys and girls. Right up front Dr. Dobson spends several pages underlying the scientific and biological reasons why girls and boys think and act differently, and how that applies to parenting. Regarding parenting, Dr. Dobson spends a chapter on the special relationship daughters will have with their mothers and a couple of chapters on the vital roles that fathers play in nurturing their daughter’s femininity. Dobson points out that the lack of godly fathers is one of the greatest threats that face girls today. In addition to the practical advice Dr. Dobson spends most of this book pointing out the perils that face girls today. These dangers need to be brought to the attention of all parents. From the lies of feminism, the distorted view of body image that the culture forces upon our teens, the lack of godly and involved fathers and the rampant bullying that takes place – these dangers all face our daughters. Without belittling these dangers, I did feel that there was a bit of an imbalance toward these negative aspects as opposed to the positive (There was a chapter dedicated to “The Good News About Girls). All in all, I would highly recommend this book to parents with a daughter of any age. The reading can be tedious at times (a lot of transcripts from radio shows), but the topic is vital and the information very helpful. (less)
In the realms of non-fiction some books are prescriptive in nature, offering solutions and ideas to assist the reader, while other books are descripti...moreIn the realms of non-fiction some books are prescriptive in nature, offering solutions and ideas to assist the reader, while other books are descriptive, describing things like events to the reader. “Young, Restless, Reformed” fits into the second category. The author, Collin Hansen (editor-at-large for Christianity Today Magazine) seeks to give the reader a glimpse into the resurgence of Calvinism in American Christianity, especially among the young adult demographic. Hansen describes his experiences at the Passion Conference in 1997, Bethlehem Baptist Church (Pastored by John Piper), Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He gives us a glimpse into the lives of some key figures within the movement through interviews with John Piper, Mark Driscoll and many young people that are on fire for God as a result of coming to grips with the doctrines of grace (Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace and Perseverance of the saints). Though the book may be descriptive in nature, there are still lessons to be learned. It becomes clear from his observations that weak theology and “attractional” ministries like the seeker-sensitive movement have failed to capture the passion of the next generation. The strength of Biblically focused and doctrinally passionate churches is seen, and the myth that a focus on doctrine must result in lack of passion is put to rest. But further lessons are learned as Hansen also shares interviews of those who are critical of these “new” Calvinists, both from the conservative and liberal side. From these interviews some of the potential pitfalls can be seen (i.e. perceived arrogance, difficulty getting along with others).
Another feature is that this book provides historical context. “Young, Restless, Reformed” was written in 2008. As I read this book in 2012 the “New Calvinist” movement has only gotten larger. For example, the Together for the Gospel conference that Hansen attended as he researched for his book has grown by the thousands. Yet some of the opposition to the movement is also clearly seen, as recently as the Southern Baptist Convention as opponents of the movement continue to be vocal.
Finally, while the book is descriptive and historical in nature, as Hansen describes his interactions with the New Calvinists, he also details what they believe which results in a clear presentation of the Gospel. But when an author writing a descriptive work of such a God centered, gospel oriented movement it would be quite hard to omit that gospel. (less)
In the past few years I have come across and read many good books devoted to getting the Gospel right. Add to this the expanding influence of conferenc...moreIn the past few years I have come across and read many good books devoted to getting the Gospel right. Add to this the expanding influence of conferences like "Together for the Gospel" and "The Gospel Coalition", and one might think that this gospel-focus is somewhat of a recent fad. While it may be true that a right understanding of the gospel might ebb and flow in popularity, the book "Our Guilty Silence", written in 1967, shows that men like John Stott, the author, were quite interested in getting the gospel right decades ago.
In this little book John Stott highlights the foundational message of the gospel in such a way that the reader is left not a little convicted for their silence in proclaiming these glorious truths. In the first chapter Stott gives the reader the incentive for bold proclamation of the gospel - The Glory of God. Our desire to proclaim the truth springs from our desire to bring glory to the God who saved us. This desire is reflected in our obedience and love along with our worship and our witness.
The second chapter is devoted to defining the gospel of God. Stott puts forth that one reason why Christians are silent regarding the gospel is because they are neither clear no sure what they ought to speak. The chapter covers the person and work of Christ, the effects of sin and the response of faith.
The third chapter should not be read without the fourth chapter. In the third chapter Stott talks about the necessity of the church of God (the people of God, both universal and local) to take action in proclaiming the gospel. He spends a few pages of the chapter detailing what his specific church does to evangelize, and some of the differences in culture and time in history become apparent. As he concludes the book, fourth chapter balances the third in that Stott points out that the power behind the gospel does not come from programs, but from the Holy Spirit.(less)
As one reads through many of Mark Dever's books it becomes apparent that he has a desire for people to have a Biblical understanding of "the church"....moreAs one reads through many of Mark Dever's books it becomes apparent that he has a desire for people to have a Biblical understanding of "the church". This desire is seen in his ministry "9 Marks" which details what he believes are 9 marks of a healthy or Biblical local church. In his book "The Church: The Gospel Made Visible" Dever continues his ecclesiological education by, first, running the different aspects of the church (it's nature, attributes, membership, polity, discipline, etc) through a biblical grid, then secondly, showing how the church or churches stayed true or deviated from biblical teaching throughout history and then finally applying that information to what a local church should look like today.
The first section is foundational to the whole book, and has necessary information for all Christians as they discover their relationship to the body of Christ made visible through the local church. The first 8 chapters focus on answering the question "What does the Bible Say?". One of the basic principles that he comes back to regularly is that the marks of a church, as seen in Scripture, come down to 1. right preaching (Preaching the Word, built up by biblical theology and centered around the gospel) and 2. Right administration of the ordinances.
The 3 chapters in the second section answer the question "What has the Church Believed?". Here he covers the history of the idea of the church, the ordinances of the church and the organization of the church. As he explores the history of the church he goes back to the Biblical foundation that he already laid comparing and contrasting the actions of men, churches, traditions and denominations against Scripture.
Finally in the 4 chapters of the third section Dever puts it all together and puts forth what he believes a Biblical church should look like. In summary a biblical church has right preaching, right administration of ordinances, a biblical view of church membership, and an elder led yet congregational governed structure.
If you're wondering if you should read this book, ask yourself two questions. 1. Do I know what the Bible says about the church? And 2. Do I know why churches today, and specifically my church, believes what we believe and practices what we practice? If the answer to either of those is less than affirmative, then this would book would be an excellent book for you to read.(less)
“The Legacy of Sovereign Joy” is the first book by Pastor John Piper in a series entitled “The Swans are not Silent”. This series gives a brief glimpse...more“The Legacy of Sovereign Joy” is the first book by Pastor John Piper in a series entitled “The Swans are not Silent”. This series gives a brief glimpse into the lives
of people used by God in the history of the church. However, the purpose is not primarily biographical, but to highlight the character of God in the lives of these notable Christians. As the title suggests, the focus of this book is finding joy in a sovereign God. The characters Piper focuses on are St. Augustine, Martin Luther and John Calvin.
After a brief introduction where he makes it clear that each of the men looked at were used by God in spite of their flaws (“Savoring the Sovereignty of Grace in the Lives of Flawed Saints”), Piper spends one chapter on each of the men drawing out what he feels to be a picture of how they demonstrated a joyful passion for God’s sovereign grace. In the life of Augustine we see “the liberating power of holy pleasure”, a man who finally recognized that all the pleasure of earth could not compare to the pleasures of God. “Saving grace, converting grace, in Augustine’s view, is God’s giving us a sovereign joy in God that triumphs over all other joys…”
In the life of Martin Luther, shaped by the teachings of Augustine, we see not only a passion for God’s saving grace, but a zeal for the Word of God through which that grace is revealed. Piper seizes upon Luther’s dedication to study to exhort the reader to zealously study God’s Word. Finally, Piper uses the life of John Calvin to promote the “Divine Majesty of the Word” through preaching. (“Let the pastors boldly dare all things by the word of God…but let them do all according to the word of God.”) (less)