It is wonderful when a short book does a good job of addressing the major areas of an issue. You don’t expect short books to go into great detail. You do hope they are aware of the important issues.
Beth Felker Jones has written a wonderful, and yes, short book on a theology of sex. The book is barely over a hundred pages and can easily be read in a sitting or two.
Jones is winsome, writes clearly, and gives the reader confidence that this issue should matter a whole lot more than it does. Jones does a terrific job of highlighting some bogus beliefs among the Christian community that continue to hurt people needlessly.
A great introduction to an important topic!
The Myth of Certainty greatly ministered to me. It was my companion on a recent trip.
I often jest that I am a serial, not cereal (!) doubter. Dan does a terrific job of showing how the struggle to believe can (and should) be incorporated into our Christian lives.
Dan is a wonderful writer and brings into this conversation some insightful people like Ellul, Kierkegaard, Flannery O’Connor, and Pascal.
My own reflection on this important piece by Alan Jacobs:
For many years, I’ve tried to address the problem through teaching the Bible and theology. I still do so, but I am now convinced that though biblical/theological illiteracy is still a big problem with so-called evangelicals, historical ignorance is equally eating our lunch.
I read things on a regular basis that trumpet the glories of the Stoic way of life. It got me thinking about three options when it comes to death:
SECULAR folks think death is something we should not think of. We need to get distracted with lesser things. Ernest Becker talked about these things in his Pulitzer winning book, The Denial of Death.
STOICS say we ought to face death bravely as it is so “natural.” Everyone has to experience it. Hunker down and face the music. Stop complaining you weak-willed soul!
SCRIPTURE tells us that death is our final enemy (I Cor. 15:26). Satan uses death to terrorize us (Heb. 2:14,15). Christ says he has abolished death (II Tim. 1:10). We long for eternity (Ecc. 3:11). Death is not the way it was suppose to be. We can face it (contra the SECULARIST), but we don’t face it in our own strength (contra the STOIC).
This interview just went live:
I will be interviewing Professor Karen Swallow Prior next month, but this is a terrific interview on what great books can do for us:
Quite a bit, it turns out.
The second century was a time when Christianity was challenged by many philosophies and religions. Because of this volatility, Michael Kruger, in his wonderfully conceived overview of the second century, convincingly shows that it has much to say to our own situation today.
Kruger’s book fits a huge need as the second century has been largely ignored.
Among other things, this was the time when key defenders of the Christian faith arose to give articulate and persuasive arguments.
Kruger’s book also does a terrific job of showing that the canon was largely determined far in advance of Nicea.
Kruger is thorough without being pedantic. He is a skillful scholar who knows how to write clearly.
When I used to teach at a Christian, high school, I put the following equation on the blackboard during the first day of class. I called it “The Tragic Equation of American Christianity.” It does not just hold true for high school students!
In big, bold letters I wrote A+B+C+D=E.
I told the students that each letter represented a word. At first, they were quiet and reluctant to guess. I helped them with A which stands for anger. For B or boredom, a student guessed correctly. When that happened, the proverbial dam broke. These students definitely resonated with my equation.
The rest of equation looks like this: Anger+Boredom+Cynicism+Disillusionment=Empty
I’ve been spending some focused time as of late pondering why so many Christians resonate with this equation. I regularly have conversations with Christians who candidly admit to things like disillusionment and boredom. For the most extreme, we have the new moniker of Dones, those who are “done” identifying with a church, yet still self-consciously holding on to Christian beliefs.
I had lunch with a friend last week where we talked a bit about why many church attenders simply want some inspiration for their week, but are apathetic about engaging with God’s Word and uninterested in His mission. Among other things, these folks don’t appreciate how much they are missing out. It is a great joy to see your feeble, fallen self used by God for His glory.
I interact with many Christians who have little curiosity about growing in their understanding of the Christian faith. There’s really no need because they are not involved in ministries that require resources beyond their natural abilities. They are plenty capable of living their lives in their own strength, or so it seems for now.
Most reflections later…