Within the age…

we cannot transcend all the errors that characterize our time.

Archive for June 2014

Living Life to the Fullest – A review of 10:10

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I have been provided some complimentary review copies of some new books by Baker publishing, so this is the first in a series of reviews I will be doing of recently released books. I have in no way been required to write a positive review.

Daniel Hill states in the second chapter of his book, 10:10 Life to the Fullest, that he has experienced a wide variety of Christian traditions. He grew up in what he calls a conservative fundamental church, spent his teen years in Pentecostal churches, and his twenties at Willow Creek. What he noticed is that a recurring theme stretched across all of these differing traditions: the people wanted more. Not only did the people want more, but Hill himself felt his spiritual vitality depended on finding out why Christians today don’t “life life to the full” as he believed Christ promised in John 10:10.

The answer that Hill puts forward is that we need faith that is holistic, and multi-dimensional.  He suggests three dimensions to a holistic faith: 1. Faith and Fear, 2. Faith and Intimacy, and 3. Faith and Missions.

Now I agree with Hill that the emptiness and frustration many Christians experience is essentially an issue of faith; however, I have some objections to Hill’s method and message.

1. Error of Interpretation
Hill interacts with Scripture a number of times throughout his book, but doesn’t come to the same conclusions I believe the original authors intended. For example, in his treatment of the rich young ruler of Luke 18 he presents Christ’s command to the man to reflect Christ’s heart for the poor, instead of Christ demonstrating to the man that he did not actually desire to follow Christ above all else.  In chapter 7, Hill exegetes Matthew 14 in which Christ walks out to the disciples on the sea. Hill reasons that Christ brought the disciples to the “intersection of faith and fear” for the purpose of building courage in them. A man walks on water, and the point of the story is that it illustrates how we are supposed to be brave? Hill’s application is, at best, a minor consideration. The point of the passage is clearly that it demonstrates that Christ is God. These sort of man-centered interpretations fill the book.  In his brief discussion of John 19:28-30, he says that Christ finished on the cross our need to ever doubt that we are loved by God, or that we could be accepted and called God’s child (pp. 39-40). No pages are given to any elaboration of how Christ’s work on the cross has made this possible.

2. A Watered-down Message
Considering Hill’s errors in interpretation, it’s not a surprise that the book contains a very watered down message. One example is found in chapter 10: Hill highlights two primary barriers to our having a greater intimacy with God: 1. Our Fears and Insecurities, and 2. The Evil One. Now, these could certainly be barriers to us growing close to God, but the greatest barrier is never even addressed: Our Sin. Our sin separates us from God. Comparatively our fears, insecurities, and Satan are nothing compared to how our own sin keeps us from a right relationship with God. In fact, that’s essential to a right understanding of the gospel, which you will not find here. What you will find is that if you stop treating Christ like a spiritual add-on he will “be unleashed to act like the spiritual force he actually is” (p. 43) and “Jesus loves you, and is ready to meet you right where you are. Jesus has an incredible vision for your life, and he wants you to experience the fullness of life that you have been designed for.”  (p. 35)

“The fullness of life that you have been designed for” is never fully defined. 10:10 is dangerously vague while trying to be spiritually challenging and uplifting. I can’t recommend it as someone could easily come away with false impressions of what scripture says, and actually be left in a more confused state than when he started trying to find out what it is that’s lacking in his life.

An alternative? Pick up some classics like A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of The Holy, or A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life by William Law.

Written by Agrammatos

June 30, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Posted in General

A Good Reason to Hope

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…because of God’s sovereign grace and His providential design, some children are placed in a home where the gospel is lived and taught, this should give every believing parent good reason to hope that God intends to save them (John 5:34; 1 Peter 3:15). 

Source: Rediscovering Family Worship by Jerry Marcellino

Written by Agrammatos

June 27, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Posted in Book Recommendations

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Three Possible Parents

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“First Parent: I am in favor of Knowledge, Goodness, and Happiness, and I certainly do want them for my child. I am aware, however, that no one has been able to say exactly what those things are, and that by now it seems clear that no one ever will. It would be a waste of time and effort for me to pretend to bring all those considerations to a conclusion, so I will just have to hope for the best, and look around for some good examples or ideas that seem to work for somebody, and, of course, whenever possible, urge her to be good and learn things. I’ll also see what makes her happy and try to provide as much of it as possible, provided, of course, that it won’t also have the effect of making her bad, or, come to think of it, of keeping her in ignorance. Hmm. Maybe that won’t always be so easy. It looks as though I may have to do some guessing as I go along. Well, I am going to be very sincere, and I am going to try very hard to do the right thing, and maybe it will all work out for the best. There. That’s my plan.

Second Parent: I know what Goodness consists of, and I know that Happiness comes from being good. Frankly, I’m not at all sure that Knowledge has much to do with either. I know lots of very smart and well-informed people who seem to be less good than they ought to be just because of all that Knowledge, and who, furthermore, do not agree with me as to the nature of Goodness. I will simply see to it that this child does agree with me. I will just tell her.

Third Parent: Now that I think about it for a minute, I’m not at all sure that I have ever made any distinctions between Happiness and Pleasure, for instance. Or between Knowledge and Information. Should I rear this child as though there were no differences? And what about Goodness? Is that the same thing as Obedience? Or as Conformity? Wouldn’t that depend on what was to be obeyed, or conformed to? I suspect that I can never know for certain what any of those things actually are, but I do have to do something about deciding what, in this case, they ought to be. It’s a good thing the child is still asleep, because it looks as though I have some work to do before she wakes up and starts asking questions. I think I had better begin with talking to myself for a while. Maybe I’ll start with something that sounds particularly intriguing. Pleasure. I wonder, do I mean the same thing by Pleasure as I do by Happiness? Is Pleasure good, or is some Pleasure good and another bad? If I could decide which is which, what would I have, Knowledge or Information? Well, I can see that this is going to take a while. I’d better get to it.

It is not difficult to choose which parent you would prefer if you happened to be Petronilla. Is it any more difficult to choose which parent you would like to be?” – Richard Mitchell

Source: The Gift of Fire by Richard Mitchell

More of Mitchell here.

Written by Agrammatos

June 20, 2014 at 3:33 AM

Giving to the Limit of Our Ability

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“First of all, Christians ought to imagine themselves in the place of the person who needs their help, and they ought to sympathize with him as though they themselves were suffering; they ought to show real mercy and humaneness and offer their assistance as readily as if it were for themselves.”

“…When a member of our physical body is diseased and the whole body has to labor to restore it to health, we do not despise this diseased member or hold it under obligation because it needs all this assistance. The mutual help which the different parts of the body offer to each other is by the law of nature considered to be no favor, but a matter of course, which would be cruel to refuse. Therefore, if a man has performed one service, he should not reckon himself discharged of all other duties. A rich man, for instance, who had given away part of his property and leaves the burdens for others, cannot consider himself to be excused. Every man, however important he may be, should realize that he is a debtor to his neighbor and that love demands that he give to the limit of his ability.” – John Calvin

Source: The Golden Booklet of The True Christian Life by John Calvin

Written by Agrammatos

June 18, 2014 at 11:21 PM

Posted in Book Recommendations

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The Consequences of Education

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There was a time, and we can easily see it in the five or six centuries that run roughly from the time of Socrates to the time of Epictetus, when the idea of education was very simple, and the supposed consequences of education, tremendous. With us, it is the other way around. The process of education is tremendously complicated and technical, filled with requirements for this and that, competencies and all their presumed measurements, degrees and diplomas, professional standards, approved and accepted bodies of information, and whole catalogs full of other details. And, at the end of the great, epic journey of education, in which not a few will spend as much as a quarter of a century, you should be able to do something, one something.”  – Richard Mitchell

Source: The Gift of Fire by Richard Mitchell

More of Mitchell here.

Written by Agrammatos

June 15, 2014 at 11:16 PM

On Seeking the Good for Everyone

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This is the only way to attain that which is not only difficult, but utterly repugnant to man’s nature: to love those who hate us, to requite injuries with kindness, and to return blessings for curses. We should forever keep in mind that we must not brood on the wickedness of man, but realize that he is God’s image bearer.  – John Calvin

Source: The Golden Booklet of The True Christian Life by John Calvin

Written by Agrammatos

June 8, 2014 at 11:15 PM

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Children are not Fish

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“Children, also, are not fish. There are many ways to define children, and the silliest possible one is the one that we usually use. Age. But, in asking yourself how to talk about goodness with the little girl you hope to rear wisely, and realizing that she has not yet found the grasp of her own mind, you have already come up with a far better definition. To understand that children are those under the age of eighteen is an idea that we are stuck with. We do need some such arrangement for the sake of ordering affairs in the body politic. But you need not be stuck with it. If you should prefer to understand that children are those human beings who have not yet found the grasp of their own minds, then the task you have given yourself, that task of rearing a child wisely and well, is suddenly transformed from indoctrination to education, in its truest sense, and made not only possible but even likely–provided, to be sure, one little prerequisite, which is that you are not a child, that you have come into the grasp of your mind.”  – Richard Mitchell

Source: The Gift of Fire by Richard Mitchell

More of Mitchell here.

Written by Agrammatos

June 7, 2014 at 11:12 PM