Beware the Amish pirates

Book Review: We Become What We Worship

December 22nd, 2008 by folknotions

We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry
G.K Beale
IVP Academic
Nov. 2008
341pp
ISBN: 083082877X

I get frustrated by books that - either intentionally or unintentionally - do the following:

1) Treat me like an idiot and suppose I will take its arguments at face value. The author barely attempts to address the natural questions that spring forth from her arguments (if she addresses them at all).

2) Treat me like an informed scholar and assume I understand the implications of the arguments without explaining them.

Too often, studies in theology and philosophy fail on either or both fronts. Not so with Wheaton College New Testament scholar G.K. Beale’s latest work We Become What We Worship. Beale sets himself diligently to the task of illustrating how idolatry affects the idolater through a foundational biblical theology. As he eloquently asserts: “What people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or restoration.” read more »

The Prophetic Discourse: What We Can Learn From It

August 24th, 2008 by folknotions

Exploring the Old Testament
J. Gordon McConville
vol. 4 - A Guide to the Prophets
Intervarsity Press, 2002

I am new to the Church, as many of you know if you have read any of my previous posts. Therefore, I am constantly grappling with the Church, in ways that I think are different from those of folks who are inside the Church and have grown up in it. A number of folks who have grown up in the Church have had to grapple with the way the Church has treated them in the past and heal from a lot of wounds. Often, I think those wounds stem from how the church teaches its people - as the way the people are taught guides how they act and how they respond to issues of faith.

With that in mind, I have one thing to say that I think gripes me about Church teaching: I have found that the Church teaching on the Prophets is inadequate. As I see it, either the church underteaches the Prophets, ignores them all together, or just picks out those bits which prophesize the coming of Christ. But, I mean, really, when was the last time you heard a sermon on Haggai? And if you have, please let me know so I can start visiting your church!

All that said, there is a great deal of understanding to be gleaned from the Prophets that is simply left aside by the Church. I understand the challenges of reading from the Prophets: 1) You have to talk alot about context, and some folks get bored to death by history, geography, and culture; 2) the Prophets have some really condeming language at times which doesn’t make for an uplifting Bible study; 3) the Prophets are poets and (for some reason) we think poetry is hard. read more »

Book Review: Simple Spirituality by Christopher Heuertz

July 8th, 2008 by IsaacV

Christopher L. Heuertz, Simple Spirituality: Learning to See God in a Broken World. InterVarsity Press, 2008. Pp. 159. $15.00, US.

I wish I read this book more slowly. It’s a very accessible read, but that doesn’t mean it should be read quickly. Heuertz wrote a vulnerable book, one that puts his heart on display, and I couldn’t help but want to let his words do work on my soul–but that takes more time. Heuertz doesn’t claim to offer any secrets to spiritual success. Instead, he shares what God is teaching him through his friends, who happen to be the poorest of the poor. Through the ministry of Word Made Flesh, Christopher and his wife Phileena have discovered God’s love poured out in the poor, God’s presence in brokenness. Heuertz is on a wandering journey, learning to see God among the hungry in Brazilian favelas and the children sex slaves in Thailand. Can we see what he sees? As Jesus asks, Do you have eyes to see?

The book is organized around 5 virtues, each of which are chapter titles: Humility, Community, Simplicity, Submission, and Brokenness. The threads that bind these together are Heuertz’s engrossing stories about his friends. They are the context. His spirituality isn’t a call to close your eyes and think about God; instead, friendships with the poor make friendship with God possible. Solidarity is primary: “We literally live among the dying as an act of solidarity with our neighbors and our God” (20).

But Heuertz doesn’t start there. His beginnings are steeped in American evangelicalism. read more »

Review of the New Conspirators

June 13th, 2008 by TimN

This is an expanded version of my review that first appeared on As of Yet Untitled. Available here with exclusive additional quotes from the book!

To put it simply, Tom Sine’s The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Timeis an encyclopedia of the new movement in the Evangelical church in Australia, Canada, Britain and the United States.

I received a review copy of The New Conspirators: just before leaving for Vietnam a month and a half ago. I carried the book with me through 3 long train journeys, fully intending to read it on each one. Then, quite unexpectedly I found myself with a large amount of time in a clinic room while my traveling companion recovered from a collapse due to altitude sickness.

We were in the mountain village of Sapa (see photos). A fog hung over the region the whole day, broken occasionally by rain. Indigenous people were the main clients of the medical facility and their colorful woven clothing gave the place a distinctly exotic feel. I found the setting infused my reading of The New Conpirators with a certain immediacy. His chapter on “Coming Home” stood out to me in particular. read more »

Conference Review

June 2nd, 2008 by ST

Not everyone can or wants to go to every conference. This is a summary of a recent conference. I think sharing the info that we learn at conferences is important.

The “Everything Must Change” tour came to Goshen College on May 9-10. This seminar was lead by renowned evangelical leader in the emerging Christian church movement, Brian McLaren. His focus for the event was addressing the following questions: “What are the world’s top global crises?” and “What does the message of Jesus say to those crises?”

Early on in the seminar, McLaren related a story in which he was leading youth worship as a young adult. He asked the youth to help him create a list of the major concerns at their churches. Issues such as whether or not to have guitars as part of worship music were brought up. He then asked the youth to help him create a list of the issues that they considered the most pressing global concerns, and issues like nuclear disarmament and famine came up. A startling difference was apparent between the two lists. Just like he suggested in the narrative of his story, McLaren instigated a call for a breaking down of the secular/sacred divide and for the Church to be deeply involved in the issues on the second list, the global list. Those of us who attended the seminar were treated to and challenged by a multi-dimensional, mixed media approach to exploring how to understand and deal with interconnected global crisis issues of planet, poverty, and peacemaking. The fourth major crisis McLaren introduced was “purpose”. He explained the latter concept in his assertion that “the biggest problem in the world is the way that we think about the biggest problems in the world.” read more »

Mark Gornik and the Fourth Period of Inner City Development?

March 15th, 2008 by JeremyY

This semester we read To Live in Peace: Biblical Faith and the Changing Inner City by Mark Gornik in my missions class. Gornik was one of the founding members of New Song Community Church in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood on Baltimore’s West Side. Over the past two decades or so, New Song has been heavily involved in the revitalization of Sandtown through their urban ministries and Habitat for Humanity. Gornik’s book makes a theological argument for Christian engagement with the inner city, not as a “mercy mission,” but as faith in action that seeks to revitalize urban spaces and communities.

My reservations with the book are not so much what Mark Gornik writes, but what he didn’t write about. Gornik describes three historical periods of development for inner city neighborhoods — the Segregated Inner City, the Post-Industrial Inner City and the Global Inner City. However, I think we may have entered a fourth stage, the Gentrified Inner City.

To Live in Peace was published in 2002, just as the so-called “Baltimore Renaissance” came into full swing. Until the crash of the housing market, some of Baltimore’s inner city communities were in the midst of rapid gentrification and redevelopment — Inner Harbor, Pig Town, Fells Point, Patterson Park, Dundalk and Canton all experienced a demographic shift as the yuppies moved in and property values rose. I live in a tiny row house in Fells Point, a traditionally blue-collar neighborhood now transformed into a tourist attraction with boutiques and condos. My landlord purchased the property for about $50,000 in the mid-80’s. Last time I looked at the tax records, the property was valued over $300,000. The vast amount of development in Baltimore City over the past decade has not been in the realm of affordable and middle-class housing, but luxury condos, hotels, a new conference center and expensive office space. The urban wasteland around Johns Hopkins University Hospital is being cleared away to make room for hospital expansion and a new biology research park. read more »