The Sky is Falling!?!

I'm only supposed to be reading books that relate to three things: my thesis, sermons I'm preparing, and books I'm reviewing.

Good thing I break that rule or else I wouldn't come across books like The Sky is Falling!?! by Alan Roxburgh.

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Found this inside which relates quite well to my thesis:

Throughout Western societies, and most especially in North America, there has occurred a fundamental shift in the understanding and practice of the Christian story. It is no longer about God and what God is about in the world; it is about how God serves and meets human needs and desires. It is about how the individual self can find its own purposes and fulfillment. More specifically, our churches have become spiritual food courts for the personal, private, inner needs of expressive individuals.

That's it exactly. The problem my thesis is addressing is preaching that is anthropocentric, that is more about God fitting into our plans than us being absorbed into what God is doing. Preaching becomes more about how to have a good life than about God.

The result is a debased, compromised, derivative form of Christianity that is not the gospel of the Bible at all. The biblical narrative is about God's mission in, through, and for the sake of the world and how God has called human beings to be part of God's reaching out to that world for God's purpose of saving it in love.

Well said. Theocentric preaching is ultimately missional preaching.

Looks like a great read. Wish I could have met Roxburgh when he pastored in Toronto.

The perspicuity of Scripture

You've got to love a million dollar word like perspicuity, especially when you find out what it means.

My brother commented on theology yesterday:

Okay, but then let's make it practical (relevant) and understandable for those of us who don't have a DMin. or a degree in Philosophy.

Using two dollar words and arguing non-essentials leaves me cold. I'd rather just go for a coffee with my pals.

I'm glad to see Arthur recognizing the brilliance of D.Min. students. And I do realize that perspicuity is a two dollar word. But before Arthur leaves to have coffee with his friends...

I agree with Arthur, and I think it's time to return theology where it belongs: away from the ivory towers, and back to non-eggheads. That's where perspicuity comes in.

Eugene Peterson writes:

The Reformers insisted on what they call the "perspicuity" of Scripture, that the Bible is substantially intelligible to the common person and requires neither pope nor professor to interpret it. It is essentially open to our understanding without recourse to academic specialists or a privileged priesthood. As the Westminster Confession says, "those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due course of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

I like this belief.

The test of good theology

Last week I suggested that good theology is practical and belongs to normal people, not academics. Some people still complained that the theology they know is dry and argumentative - which means either my definition is wrong or they've only experienced bad theology.

Dallas Willard tells us how we can know if any theology is good or not:

The acid test for any theology is this: Is the God presented one that can be loved, heart, soul, and strength? If the thoughtful, honest answer is; "Not really," then we need to look elsewhere or deeper. It does not really matter how sophisticated intellectually or doctrinally our approach is. If it fails to set a lovable God - a radiant, happy, friendly, accessible, and totally competent being - before ordinary people, we have gone wrong. We should not keep going in the same direction, but turn around and take another road.

Churches and busyness

In The Way of the Heart, Nouwen talks about the temptation to keep people busy in the church. He warns:
Our task is the opposite of distraction...The question that must guide all organizing activity in a parish is not how to keep people busy, but how to keep them from being so busy that they can no longer hear the voice of God who speaks in silence.
Great insight - and harder to do than you'd guess.