Does “Jesus Calling” Set Off Alarms? It Should.

jesuscalling

That Jesus Calling is a runaway best seller, is well known. But this book can only be so popular as Biblical-thinking is eclipsed. The rising Biblical illiteracy of Western Christians is highlighted by the popularity of this book, where Jesus is said to say things that He didn’t, but arise from the author’s imagination.

Tim Challies offers a review here, “Ten Serious Problems with Jesus Calling.”

“Is disagreement about homosexuality an ‘intra-evangelical’ discussion?” Reblogged from Denny Burk

042816_1732_Isdisagreem1

Mark your calendars–this November, Zondervan will be releasing a new book, Homosexuality, The Bible, and the Church. While he hasn’t yet seen the book, Denny Burk has some helpful comments about its release notes.

Burk shows that the way the questions of affirmation are framed is of considerable importance, and he is concerned about the intentions of this book.

Full article here.

Burk and Heath Lambert have themselves addressed these matters in their bookTransforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change.

Bonhoeffer's Legacy

“Society’s view of a Forty-Year-Old Virgin is Steve Carrell. Christianity’s view of a forty-year-old virgin should be Dietrich Bonhoeffer.” –Trevin Wax

Not everything has to be seen through the same lens.  Review of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s new biography here.

From Douglas Groothuis's Facebook Status

“While looking for WW I books at The Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch, Colorado (it is the centenary of the outbreak of hostilities), I overheard part of a question-answer time by one Kevin Hearne, a science fiction writer. I had to restrain myself from walking over five feet–the books were very near the front–and giving a lecture on his absurd and glib caricatures of Christianity.

Mr Hearne, God help him, answered a question about whether his third book in a series (about some absurd reigio-science fiction world) would be made into a film. He say probably not, since it featured a black Jesus drinking beer. That, predictably, got a flippant wave of laughter (or smirks) from the adoringly ignoramus audience. After all, he followed up, the people who would be bothered wouldn’t know about it until a film appears, since they only read Bibles. So, the cowardly film-makers pull back. He said more but this is enough.

First, has Mr. Hearne watched any films in, oh, the last thirty years? Does he think that Hollywood is shy about religious controversy or attacks on Christianity. Has he seen “Noah” for instance? Or does he know the controversy stired twenty five years ago by “The Last Temptation of Christ?”

Well, Mr. informal, witty, paid-beyond-your-competence, listen up. The greatest literary stylists of the Twentieth Century–dim wits such as T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, and others–were Christians, Christians who have forgotten more about literature than you will ever know. Furthermore, some of us ignorant Fundies have spent our entire adult lives reading literature, philosophy, mythology, psychology, and more. I stand in their midst. So, Mr. Important, we do not all fit your small minded, cliche-ridden stereotype.

Lastly, if you want to talk about a black, beer-drinking Jesus, please ring me up. I’ll drink and talk as long as you want. Perhaps you might convince me –after, say, ten beers–to read one of your works.

By the way, after surmising the WWI books, I bought one on Stubby, the amazing war dog.“

The Myth of Religious Violence | Peter J. Leithart

William T. Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.  Hardback, 285 pp, $49.95.

In the beginning was religion, and only religion.

Now religion was irrational, absolutist, and divisive, and so chaos was on the face of the earth.  Religion drove kings mad.  Because of religion, because religion was all, Catholics killed Protestants, Protestants killed Catholics, and both Protestants and Catholics killed pagans across the seas.  And darkness covered the face of the earth.

And from the darkness, far in the West, came the Liberal State, and the Liberal State said, Let there be light.  And there was light.  And the darkness was afraid.

And in the Liberal State there was no religion.  And the Liberal State called itself Secular.  And it was so.

And the Liberal State said, Let us divide religion from life, and, lest the darkness return, let us place between religion and life a firmament that cannot be crossed.  Let us bury religion deep in the heart of man, where it can do some small good but no harm.  And let us make religion innocuous and rational.

And the magicians and sorcerers and court prophets shouted and said, All you have commanded, so shall we do.

And it was so.  And the Liberal State saw that it was good.

And peace dripped like honey from the rock and flowed like wine from the mountains.  Lions supped with lambs.  All nations rejoiced in the Liberal State, for its mercy endures forever.

And still the darkness grew strong.  It wept and called itself Beck.  It raged and grew a beard and called itself bin Laden.

And the Liberal State said, The darkness has grown strong and will soon be as one of Us.  We must grow stronger, for we are light and light must triumph over darkness.

And the Liberal State said, Eternal vigilance is the price of secularity.

And all the peoples said, Amen, and Amen.  Most of them, anyway.

***

Now there came a man whose name was Bill, bearing a stack of books written by the magicians and the sorcerers and the court prophets.

And Bill said, The Liberal State lies.  The Liberal State pretends save us from chaos but it does not.  The Liberal State creates the chaos.

And Bill laid the stack of books before them and said, Not one of you knows what religion is.

And the Liberal State said, Religion is man’s relationship with God.

And Bill said, What about Buddhists?

And the Liberal State stuttered and said, No, no.  We mean religion is ultimate concern.

And Bill said, Then are your own nationalisms and statisms, your own Marxisms and capitalisms and socialisms all religions as well.

And the Liberal State cleared its throat nervously and said, No, no.  We mean religion is whatever a man is worth dying or killing for.

And Bill answered and said, Then saying “religion causes violence” is saying “things we consider worth killing for lead to killing.”   Enough of your tricks and incantations!  Sophist!

And the Liberal State was abashed, as were all its magicians and sorcerers and court prophets.

And Bill answered and said, None of you has named religion for all times and for all places.  No such name exists.

And the Liberal State answered and said, Religion is private and interior, dogmatic and creedal.

And Bill said, In the beginning it was not so.  By your own myth, it was not so.  Many religions have no books or creeds or dogmas.  Many religions are public and exterior.  Your naming of religion dawned from the West.  The name “religion” as you use it is not true in all times and in all places.  Away with your acrobatics, for they have made many dizzy.

And Bill answered and said, for he was wroth, Generation of vipers!  By pointing to the bad violence of those you name “religious,” you ignore other violence, the “good” violence that you yourselves commit.

And the Liberal State said, Yes, but people do bad things in the name of religion.

And Bill said, Yea and verily.  People do violence in the name of religion.  I have not been sent to deny that “religious” people are violent.  I have not been sent to say that “secularists” do just as much violence as religious people, though that may well be true.  I have been sent with one message: Your naming of “religion” dissolves into nothing, and nothing that has dissolved can help us understand why men act with violence.

And the Liberal State was the more thoroughly abashed.  And the magicians murmured and some slipped quietly away.

And yet the Liberal State spoke again and said, But what of the wars of religion?  Did We not learn our lesson?  Did We not come to save the world from the violence of religion?

And Bill pointed to the stack of books and said, The wars of religion were not so.  The books lie, and the truth is not in them.  In these wars, members of the same church killed one another, members of different churches fought together.  You believe these wars were religious and not something else because you are naming something “religion” that did not then exist.

And Bill answered and said, for he burned with anger, These wars were not religious wars, but wars to build your power.  Kings pretended to fight for religion, while they killed rivals to make themselves stronger.  Kings pretended to fight for religion, while they fought the church, taking power and property from the church.  You, the State, are not savior but the bringer of violence.

And the Liberal State was silent, knowing that Bill spoke the truth.

And Bill answered and said, The name “religion” you use was invented during the “wars of religion,” invented to help you build a firmament between religion and life, and to make it look as if you were the savior.  “Religion” as you describe it was not the cause but the result of the “wars of religion,” as was the name “secular.”

And Bill answered again and said, The states built from the rubble of these wars were confessional states and absolutist states.  The Liberal State came much later, but you justified yourself by convincing everyone that they had saved Europe from religion.

Now only a few sorcerers and magicians and court prophets remained.

And still the Liberal State continued and said, If you are right, then why do so many fear, love, and trust us as Savior?  Can so many people be so wrong?

Now Bill had thought long and deeply about this question.  He meant to trap the Liberal State in this trap.  He smiled a cunning smile and said, Who benefits?  Who profits from your lie?

And he answered and said, You profit!  Your naming of religion is useful to you.  By it, you allow people to do some things in public, things you name “secular.”  And by it, you do not allow people to do other things in public, things you name “religious.”  By it, you pretend that you are protecting us from violent “religion” so that we will love you.  By it, you stir up patriotic zeal that looks just like “religion” but which you name “secular.”  By it, you demand that young men offer their lives as sacrifices to you, while telling us that other young men who offer their lives as sacrifices to God are nutty.  By it, you encourage large crowds to wave flags at fighter jets, but do not allow small crowds of children to pray at school.  By it, you prove that the West is superior to the rest.  By it, you excuse yourself for dropping bombs on all the rest who have not learned about the firmament established between religion and life, all who are not as you are.

And he looked, and behold, the Liberal State was gone, and only one of the sorcerers, magicians, and court prophets remained.

And the one remaining magician said, If the Liberal State does not save us, who will?  What shall we do to be saved?

But the words of Bill were ended.

And the remaining magician looked and, behold, the land was filled with the bodies of Bill’s enemies.

And he said, For a pacifist, Bill leaves a lot of carnage behind.

***

And the remaining magician, an American one, answered and said, What about the First Amendment?

And another voice, not the voice of Bill, answered and said, The Constitution does not know what religion means.  The Liberal State has established its religion, a religion named “secular,” and woe be to the heretics.  And America is the most Liberal of the Liberal States.

And the remaining magician, the American one, answered and said, What about the war on terror?

And another voice, not the voice of Bill, answered and said, It is a religious war, a war between the religion named “secular” and the religion named “Islamicism.”

And the one remaining magician, the American one, answered again and said, If the Liberal State does not save us, who will?  What shall we do to be saved?

And another voice, not the voice of Bill but a voice from heaven, answered and said, Kiss the Son, lest He be angry.

 posted by Peter J. Leithart on Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at 1:09 am

John Owen has been dead for over 300 years. So what?

Can a man who has been dead over 300 years have any relevance or significance to us now? Can anything in his life hold our interest? Although we know little of his life, we have many of his Biblical studies and theological works. These remain as some of the finest theology ever written. But one thing about his life, which stands out, we do know:

He was married 31 years. In that time, his wife bore 11 children, all but one of whom died as a child. The one who lived to adulthood herself died young and childless. In 31 years, John Owen saw the loss of 11 children and his wife. That is an average of one child’s death every three years through 31 years of his life.

His faithfulness as a Christian and as a minister of Christ, through a life of suffering makes him much more “relevant” to me than the “rock star” preachers making the circuit today. God still mightily uses his works today; will anyone a generation from now even know who Jakes, Meyers, Olsteen, Hagee, Crouch, Robertson, et al and ad nauseum were? Will they be found “relevant?”

I challenge anyone reading this to find John Owen’s works, abridged or unabridged, ebook or print, and dig in for some real soul-food. J. I. Packer (someone who will be remembered) credits Owen with saving his spiritual life. God might use Owen’s works for you, too.

Why I'm Still a Christian (and not a "Christ Follower")

It has been somewhat of a fad, or trend of late, to mess with words. Now I happen to like words, and think the change of meaning that comes over time affects some words but not all, and  certainly not at the same rate of change anyway. So in the current time words and their meanings are overturned with an increasing rapidity, and this bothers me, especially when it comes to how we speak of God, Jesus Christ, Salvation, His church, etc.

One example is the popular play on words, “Christianity is a relationship (with God, or Jesus) not a religion!”

Oh really? Does the Bible speak this way? The English Standard Version (ESV) and the King James Version (KJV) do not use the term “relationship” even once. The New American Standard Bible (NASB) uses it once to describe husband and wife. The New International Version uses it 5 times, but only two of those in reference to God. On the other hand, Eugene Peterson’s The Message uses the term “relationship” 25 times, and uses it especially in Galatians in opposition to another misunderstood word, “religion.”

The phrase that sets “relationship” against “religion” is not really helpful. If one takes a look at how the word “religion” gets used in the Bible, it will be seen that the word is sometimes in a positive light (James 1:27), sometimes negatively (Colossians 2:23), and sometimes almost in a neutral sense (Acts 25:19). Interestingly, at least for those of us who count such things, The Message uses the word “religion” 171 times, only one of which is in a positive light! To compare, the ESV uses it 5 times.

All this is to illustrate: we must be careful that our Bible translating, and our reading, do not create issues that the Bible doesn’t, and thus create straw-men to knock down. I believe the popular “religion vs relationship” thing is like this. It is a false dichotomy, and it sets up a great line of attack from atheists, who already believe we Christians are subjective, squishy thinkers. This keeps us from getting at the nonsense that is atheism, but that’s another post.

Now don’t go burning your copies of The Message. It is an informed translation of the Hebrew and Greek by a working Pastor. But we need to keep in mind that it is an introductory Bible, not a study Bible. It is a starting point for anyone who has really found the Bible inaccessible; but Christians need to move on.

My greatest problem with The Message is that it is a sort of “boutique Bible,” which, I fear, is a product of our time. We like our religion (excuse me, relationship with God) as we like it. It becomes a sort of “have it your way” faith.

And that’s the problem. In attacking “religion” at almost every opportunity, Peterson fails to distinguish between true and false religion, or hypocritical religion. I know full well that that was not his intention, but I cringe every time I hear that phrase without the understanding that needs to go behind it. It is glib and easy to say, and is dangerous because so much of anti-religion is simply a mask for anti-authority. We bring our rebellion to church, baptise it, and take an “only God can judge me” stance (or tattoo).

Christians or Christ Followers?

So what does this have to do with being a Christian rather than a “Christ follower?” Well, for one, is that the name of those who belong to Jesus? Even The Message only uses it one time (Ephesians 4:12, generic for “saints”). The Good News version uses it one time in 1 Peter 4:14, “Happy are you if you are insulted because you are Christ’s followers; this means that the glorious Spirit, the Spirit of God, is resting on you.”

So look at all the times  Christian is is found in the New Testament (not being found in the Old Testament at all):

Acts 11:26: and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

Acts 26:28: And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”

1 Peter 4:16: Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

Just three times! So you might wonder, why I care so much to be called a Christian, but not a “Christ Follower.” Here are two reasons:

First, the argument against being called a Christian runs something like this: “So much evil, so much stupidity, has been done in the name of Christianity, that we need a new word to describe ourselves; we follow Christ, and since we want to be like Him, we want to be known only as His followers.” Noble intentions. Summarized, though, it seems that we are embarrassed to be called Christians. We are ashamed of the religion of Christianity, although not ashamed of Christ. But remember that being called a Christian in Nero’s court could bring a lot more upon oneself than ridicule. The world will never really like Christians, and especially that name.

A second reason I call myself a Christian is the better of the two: Look again at Acts 11:26:

“and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.”

It’s that word, “called” that needs to be unpacked. It isn’t a common word, like “named,” or such. The world “call” in English occurs 304 times in the New Testament. But “call” can translate several different Greek words. In Acts 11:26, that Greek word is χρηματίζω (chrematizo). The usual Greek word is καλέω (kaleo), φωνέω (phoneo), προσκαλέω (proskaleo), and others. I think kaleo is the most used, however, and no, I didn’t look it up.

But in Acts 11:26 we find a word that occurs just 9 times out of the 304 listed above. That word is χρηματίζω (chrematizo). See how it is translated:

[Disclaimer: If you don’t read Greek, it will look like the words I boldfaced are not consistently the same. This is because the spelling of Greek words change as they are used differently in a sentence. The “root” of each of the words is the same one word, χρηματίζω (chrematizo). Ya gotta trust me on tis one.]

Matthew 2:12

καὶ χρηματισθέντες κατʼ ὄναρ μὴ ἀνακάμψαι πρὸς Ἡρῴδην, διʼ ἄλλης ὁδοῦ ἀνεχώρησαν εἰς τὴν χώραν αὐτῶν.

And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Matthew 2:22

Ἀκούσας δὲ ὅτι Ἀρχέλαος βασιλεύει τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἀντὶ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ Ἡρῴδου ἐφοβήθη ἐκεῖ ἀπελθεῖν· χρηματισθεὶς δὲ κατʼ ὄναρ ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὰ μέρη τῆς Γαλιλαίας,

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.

Luke 2:26

καὶ ἦν αὐτῷ κεχρηματισμένον ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ ἁγίου μὴ ἰδεῖν θάνατον πρὶν [ἢ] ἂν ἴδῃ τὸν χριστὸν κυρίου.

And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Acts 10:22

οἱ δὲ εἶπαν· Κορνήλιος ἑκατοντάρχης, ἀνὴρ δίκαιος καὶ φοβούμενος τὸν θεόν, μαρτυρούμενός τε ὑπὸ ὅλου τοῦ ἔθνους τῶν Ἰουδαίων, ἐχρηματίσθη ὑπὸ ἀγγέλου ἁγίου μεταπέμψασθαί σε εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκοῦσαι ῥήματα παρὰ σοῦ.

And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.”

Acts 11:26

καὶ εὑρὼν ἤγαγεν εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν. ἐγένετο δὲ αὐτοῖς καὶ ἐνιαυτὸν ὅλον συναχθῆναι ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ καὶ διδάξαι ὄχλον ἱκανόν, χρηματίσαι τε πρώτως ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ τοὺς μαθητὰς Χριστιανούς.

and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

Romans 7:3

ἄρα οὖν ζῶντος τοῦ ἀνδρὸς μοιχαλὶς χρηματίσει ἐὰν γένηται ἀνδρὶ ἑτέρῳ· ἐὰν δὲ ἀποθάνῃ ὁ ἀνήρ, ἐλευθέρα ἐστὶν ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου, τοῦ μὴ εἶναι αὐτὴν μοιχαλίδα γενομένην ἀνδρὶ ἑτέρῳ.

Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

Hebrews 8:5

οἵτινες ὑποδείγματι καὶ σκιᾷ λατρεύουσιν τῶν ἐπουρανίων, καθὼς κεχρημάτισται Μωϋσῆς μέλλων ἐπιτελεῖν τὴν σκηνήν· ὅρα γάρ φησιν, ποιήσεις πάντα κατὰ τὸν τύπον τὸν δειχθέντα σοι ἐν τῷ ὄρει·

They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”

Hebrews 11:7

Πίστει χρηματισθεὶς Νῶε περὶ τῶν μηδέπω βλεπομένων, εὐλαβηθεὶς κατεσκεύασεν κιβωτὸν εἰς σωτηρίαν τοῦ οἴκου αὐτοῦ διʼ ἧς κατέκρινεν τὸν κόσμον, καὶ τῆς κατὰ πίστιν δικαιοσύνης ἐγένετο κληρονόμος.

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Hebrews 12:25

Βλέπετε μὴ παραιτήσησθε τὸν λαλοῦντα· εἰ γὰρ ἐκεῖνοι οὐκ ἐξέφυγον ἐπὶ γῆς παραιτησάμενοι τὸν χρηματίζοντα, πολὺ μᾶλλον ἡμεῖς οἱ τὸν ἀπʼ οὐρανῶν ἀποστρεφόμενοι,

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 

Look at each of these passages! Matthew 2:12 and 22, “warned in a dream;” Luke 2:26 “revealed;” Acts 10:22 “directed by a holy angel;” Romans 7:3 “called” (by the law of God);  Hebrews 8:5, “instructed;” Hebrews 11:7, “warned by God;” and Hebrews 12:25, “him who warns.” Who is it that warns, reveals, directs, calls (as in naming), and instructs? Each of these are Divine actions. Save that thought for a moment.

On of the myths about Acts 11:26 is that the name “Christian” was attached to the Jesus movement by its enemies; it was a term of hatred, scorn, and derision. But how does that square with the way the word is translated throughout the rest of the New Testament? Well, it doesn’t, actually. While the name Christian has been, and will be, a term of ridicule and rejection, it is also the name God chose to describe the disciples. It would not be inaccurate to paraphrase Acts 11:26 something like this: “And in Antioch the disciples were first divinely called Christians.”

All Christians are Christ-followers; it’s what we do! But we are named by God, and names matter!

Toxic Charity?

Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help

Harpercollins Publishing / 2011 / Hardcover
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Publisher’s Description

Public service is a way of life for Americans; giving is a part of our national character. But compassionate instincts and generous spirits aren’t enough, says veteran urban activist Robert D. Lupton. In this groundbreaking guide, he reveals the disturbing truth about charity: all too much of it has become toxic, devastating to the very people it’s meant to help.

In his four decades of urban ministry, Lupton has experienced firsthand how our good intentions can have unintended, dire consequences. Our free food and clothing distribution encourages ever-growing handout lines, diminishing the dignity of the poor while increasing their dependency. We converge on inner-city neighborhoods to plant flowers and pick up trash, battering the pride of residents who have the capacity (and responsibility) to beautify their own environment. We fly off on mission trips to poverty-stricken villages, hearts full of pity and suitcases bulging with giveaways—trips that one Nicaraguan leader describes as effective only in “turning my people into beggars.”

In Toxic Charity, Lupton urges individuals, churches, and organizations to step away from these spontaneous, often destructive acts of compassion toward thoughtful paths to community development. He delivers proven strategies for moving from toxic charity to transformative charity.

Proposing a powerful “Oath for Compassionate Service” and spotlighting real-life examples of people serving not just with their hearts but with proven strategies and tested tactics, Lupton offers all the tools and inspiration we need to develop healthy, community-driven programs that produce deep, measurable, and lasting change. Everyone who volunteers or donates to charity needs to wrestle with this book.

Author Bio

Robert D. Lupton is founder and president of FCS Urban Ministries (Focused Community Strategies), through which he has developed two mixed-income subdivisions, organized a multiracial congregation, started a number of businesses, created housing for hundreds of families, and initiated a wide range of human services in his community. Lupton is the author of Theirs Is the Kingdom; Return Flight; Renewing the City; Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life; and the widely circulated “Urban Perspectives,” monthly reflections on the Gospel and the poor.

Editorial Reviews

“A must-read book for those who give or help others.”

“A superb book. Toxic Charity should serve as a guide and course correction for anyone involved in charitable endeavors at home or abroad.”

“Toxic Charity provides the needed counterbalance to a kind heart: a wise mind. Though I often thought, “Ouch!” while I was reading the book, Robert Lupton gave this pastor what I needed to become a more effective leader.”

“Lupton’s work, his books and, most importantly, his life continue to guide and encourage me to live and serve in a way that honors God and my neighbor. I highly recommend Toxic Charity.”

“Lupton’s book reminds us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. He shows how the people called poor can be blessed by supporting opportunities for them to give their gifts, skills, knowledge and wisdom to creating the future.”

“In Toxic Charity, Lupton reminds us that being materialistically poor does not mean that there is no capacity, no voice, and no dignity within a person. If we truly love the poor, we will want to educate ourselves on how best to serve. Let our charity be transformative not toxic.”

“Lupton says hard things that need to be said, and he’s earned the right to say them. Believers would do well to receive his words with the mindset that ‘faithful are the wounds of a friend.’”

"The Intolerance of Tolerance" by D. A. Carson. Review by Tim Challies

Original Review Here

The Intolerance of Tolerance

  • Tim Challies
  • 02/28/12

The Intolerance of ToleranceSeveral times in the past decade D.A.Carson has been asked to give a public lecture at one university or another. Three times he has taken the opportunity to speak on the subject of tolerance, or intolerance, as the case may be. Those lectures proved the foundation of what would become his cleverly-titled new book, The Intolerance of Tolerance.

Here’s the thing: In a society obsessed with tolerance, we are actually not tolerant at all. It’s all a big lie, a big fiction, and we’re all playing along. In order to claim tolerancewe’ve had to rewrite the definition of the term and in so doing we’ve put ourselves on dangerous ground. Tolerance has become part of the Western “plausability structure”—a stance that is assumed and is not to be questioned. We are to be tolerant at all times. Well, almost all times, that is.

Carson begins by showing that tolerance presupposes disagreement. That’s the beauty of being tolerant—one person expresses disagreement with another but still tolerates him, accepting that differing views exists even while holding fast to his own. He puts up with another person even though they do not believe the same thing. But over time there has been a subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle shift in the word’s meaning. Today’s version of tolerance actually accepts all differing views. We’ve gone from accepting the existence of other views to believing that we need to accept all differing views. This brings us into the natural outworking of postmodernism, a philosophy that denies the singular nature of truth.

Things get trickier still when we see that tolerance is not considered merely a virtue today, but the cardinal virtue, the virtue above all others. “Intolerance is no longer a refusal to allow contrary opinions to say their piece in public, but must be understood to be any questioning or contradicting the view that all opinions are equal in value, that all worldviews have equal worth, that all stances are equally valid. To question such postmodern axioms is by definition intolerant.” To quote Carson, “Oh dear.”

Tolerance rules today with one important caveat. There can be no tolerance for people who do not agree with the contemporary usage of the term. People like Christians, for example. Those who hold to the old meaning, that I will tolerate you even though I believe that you are wrong, sinful even—there can be no tolerance for people like that. Hence this new tolerance is inherently intolerant.

The Intolerance of Tolerance explains this strange new definition, traces its development, shows how it is particularly opposed to Christianity, and discusses what we stand to lose if this intolerant new tolerance continues to reign in society. Carson closes by suggesting ten ways ahead—ten suggestions that each of us can adopt if we wish to combat the new tolerance.

This is not just a book for smart people, but you’ll find it helps. If you’re really smart and well-read you can probably read it once with pretty good comprehension. If you’re like me, you’ll need at least two readings and even then be scratching your head at times. It’s not that it’s exceedingly dense or difficult, but that it deals with categories that are unfamiliar. At least that was my experience. But I’m glad I read it as it helped me crystalize exactly what I’ve seen going on all around me. It’s given me the parameters I need to ensure that I don’t inadvertently lose the better meaning of tolerance and it has given me fair warning of the consequences should I do so.

It is available at Westminster Books ($15.60) or Amazon ($16.03 hardcover, $9.99 Kindle).