Monday, January 17, 2011

Excited About a New Book- Surprised at an Unexpected Find

Been taking some time today to begin a new book, "Right Reason and the Princeton Mind- An Unorthodox Proposal" by Paul Kjoss Helseth. The premise is a defense against contemporary criticism of the Old Princetonians for compromising the reformed faith under the influence of Scottish Common Sense Realism.

Though I am enjoying the book immensely, a secondary surprise is that the book will afford an excellent summary to another research project in which I am currently engaged.

I have been praying through, journaling, and reading a lot about the effect of the enlightenment on current educational theories and looking at two ditches that the church has fallen into.

The first ditch is anti-intellectualism and doctrine disdain. This had been adequately documented by Mark Noll and others. The effect this has had on our culture is devastating. Never before has the church been so impotent in providing Biblical answers to contemporary questions. The church has even lost a clear, objective, articulate gospel message.

It sounds overly critical and harsh, but our retreat from doctrine has even conservative churches espousing a social gospel and an accommodating social posture in a world devoid of shame. A lot of Christian literature today is heavy on the heart and short on the head.

But I am also finding a deeper ditch on the other side of the road. This is one I am labeling "The Grace answer game". This is more subtle and deadly. This ditch is where we 'teach the answers' and find comfort when the church knows the right 'buzz words' and jargon. It doesn't unsettle us to find the Lord's charge "These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me." (Is. 29/Matt15). The book I am reading brings home foundational thoughts about the nature of saving faith. Both Charles Hodge and Archibald Alexander delineated between speculative faith, historical faith, and saving faith. I worry that we are finding a lot of speculative faith and historical faith in the marketplace- but less and less saving faith.

One side is all heart and no head. The other side is all head and no heart- both are in danger of missing the gospel message.

I will write more on this as I finish the study- but let me close with this. We all need to pay closer attention to the gospel and cry out to God for informational clarity and heart passion. I want to find God sweeter tomorrow than today. I want to see His beauty and know Him deeper. We have to have the Spirit to make us ache for righteousness and fight for justice. At the same time, we have to know the Word and rightly divide it for truth. We need to read, pray, and obey. Obedience that is not attached to the gospel- for we are saved by Christ and His grace alone. But an obedience that grows out of the relationship we have with the Father and the indwelling of His Spirit.

If we do not figure this out soon, I'm afraid we will all share the guilt of having 'the faith of the fathers ruined by the children'- This culture has never needed repentance and revival more than right now. It must start with me and my household. What say you?


Joseph said...

A good word Coach. There is a great dichotomy between what we believe and what we preach, as followers of Christ. The truth is that this will always be the case because we preach a Holy God that demands holiness from us and we are inherently sinful. At the same time, Christ died to make us righteous by giving us His righteousness. Thankfully, when our focus in correctly placed on Christ, we are no longer hypocrites in the way we live, but recipients of a great and overwhelming Grace. I've been reading several books that speak to these issues. I highly recommend Radical by David Platt, Think Orange by Reggie Joiner, and Unchristian by David McKinna if you have not read them before. I'm glad I found your blog and look forward to keeping up with your thoughts.

Jayopsis said...

Let's flesh this out together- I'd love your continued thoughts. Amen to God's grace! I never want to leave the gospel of grace alone and Christ alone.

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